I picked up the hardback copy of Selected Poetry – Alexander Pope from the Warminster Lions Charity Bookshop in Warminster Wiltshire. Its a great little shop that is only open on a Saturday morning but it carries a range of books and they prices are very cheap. This book cost me 50p to buy.
The main reason I bought it was that I loved the cover image and it wasn’t until I got it home that I noticed that it was an old withdrawn library book from Glasgow University Library.
The fact that is old library book only adds to the appeal for me. Sadly for this collection it doesn’t look like it was ever issued to a reader as the inside sheet is black and the Withdrawn From Stock Stamp reads 31 August 2005. This addition was published by Signet as part of their New American Library series in 1970.
The sad volume must have sat alone and unread on the shelves for 35 years hoping for someone to take a glance at it. How it traveled in those six years between Glasgow and Wiltshire is a mystery and I just hope it was read in that time.
I now know that Alexander Pope was was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse. A catholic by birth Pope was taught privately as catholic school were banned at the time in England. As well as his work as a poet Pope also worked as a translator on a famous version of the Odyssey by Homer and completed a new version of the complete works of Shakespeare.
“…Pope was also employed by the publisher Jacob Tonson to produce an opulent new edition of Shakespeare. When it finally appeared, in 1725, this edition silently “regularised” Shakespeare’s metre and rewrote his verse in a number of places. Pope also demoted about 1560 lines of Shakespearean material to footnotes, arguing that they were so “excessively bad” that Shakespeare could never have written them…”
I have been dipping into the book at lunchtimes and in the evenings and the use of language is wonderful.
This is some of his Verse from the poem To A Lady (1735)
“…A fool to Pleasure, yet a slave to Fame:
Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs,
Now drinking citron with his Grace and Chartres.
Now Conscience chills her, and now Passion burns;
And Atheism and Religion take their turns;
A very Heathen in the carnal part,
Yet still a sad, good Christian at her heart…”
Now without picking this book up I would never have uncovered any of the above information and I know my life is richer as a result of it. This is what will be missing in a decades time when the physical object is replaced by the digital media version. What are we going to do? Buy old iPODs and Hard Drives?