Simon Armitage has been appointed as the UK’s new Poet Laureate, replacing the former holder of that position, Carol Ann Duffy. The Daily Telegraph has an interesting article on the appointment which can be found here, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/05/10/xxx/
Our civilisation is just
As these flowers I touch,
Bright petals and dust.
In the poet’s eyes,
Or is it the skies
That turn black
So that he
Are unable to see?
My thanks to the young lady who drew my attention to this article during our chat earlier today,
Last night, I fell into conversation with an acquaintance who owns a market stall. My acquaintance sells a good many books (all second-hand), old records and similar items. Many of the people who buy from him are book lovers, however a lady recently bought a whole series of Penguin Classics (all with identical spines) to furnish the home of a person who (I suspect) is more interested in the social status gained by the ownership of an original set of Penguins than in any benefit derived from the pleasure of actually reading them. Indeed the lady doing the buying told my acquaintance that she was an interior decorator who had been specifically commissioned to purchase books for purely decorative purposes. My friend is a lover of literature and did consider not selling to the customer. However, we all must live. Consequently a sale was made and a set of Penguins, with identical spines are now (or soon will be) gracing a bookcase where they will, in all probability languish unread.
While the above incident is sad, it is not unusual. Many a country squire was more interested in hunting, shooting and fishing than in the pleasures of the mind. Although many such gentlemen where possessed of fine libraries, the bookcases often remained undisturbed, apart from the dustings of servants, and perhaps the attentions of a curious house guest or a blue stocking daughter, or other relative who might, on occasion take down and enjoy one of the leather bound tomes.
While I can’t claim that every book on my bookshelves has been read, I have always purchased them with the intention of reading, and most of the volumes in my bookcases have been well thumbed and enjoyed. What about you, my dear readers, have you ever bought a book with the sole intention of displaying (rather than reading it)?
The white cliffs of Dover may remain
Though the express train
Negotiates a perilous ledge.
Or over the edge
We may go
Though ignorant armies say, “below
For the nation”.
I shall read Arnold’s “Dover Beach”
And think on bad
I know a young lady called Heart
Who is a lover of fine art.
When I showed her my etching
She took to sketching,
But I didn’t think much of her art.