Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Reading Copy

A young man, rudely naive then, was I 
Struck dumb in love with London. 
Neophyte, uncertain, painfully shy; 
Rough-hewn, obtuse, Australian.

In publishers’ offices we laboured
Ill-paid, in sub literary endeavour,
Harbouring wishes poignant, unfulfilled,
Plotting sly our restless forever.

In crumbling characterful houses I perched,
Penniless, rootless, weary of rented rooms,
Giddy, it may be, at enticements unmeasured:
Musicals, dramas, galleries, museums.

Sabbath devotions then were all idleness,
(The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Fair),
Where filed such votive book-worshippers 
As me: in bleak, unglamorous, Russell Square.

But as for the aesthete’s haughty rejection
Of all but unread, pristine, mint condition,
I demurred, and fell upon unseen treasures:
A Nonesuch Donne, a paperback Borges.

And thus I conceived there my love of England, 
With like-minded book people tolerant of me
When, poor as I was, I might weigh in my hand 
A first edition Voss - then and now: eternity.