Monday, November 21

The Ballad of the Tempting Book

Nearly every year for the past decade or so, I have made it a habit to give each of my graduating students a book. Sometimes I try to find an antiquarian book that I think fits their individual personality, experience, or calling. Sometimes, I stumble upon a cache of rarities and I grab the whole lot of them.

But, more often than not, I buy them all an old copy of Q's Oxford Book of English Verse. As I present it to them at the end of the year, I am wont to recite this little doggerel ballad:

Sometimes when I sit down at night,
And try to think of something new,
Some odd conceit that I may write
And work into a verse or two,
There often dawns upon my view,
The while my feeble thoughts I nurse,
A little book in gold and blue:
Q’s Oxford Book of English Verse.

And though I try, in wild affright
At thought of all I have to do,
To keep that volume out of sight,
If I so much as look askew,
I catch it playing peek-a-boo;
Then work may go to--pot, or worse!
I'm giving up the evening to:
Q’s Oxford Book of English Verse.

O! some for essays recondite,
And some for frothy fiction sue,
But give to me for my delight,
One tuneful tome to ramble through;
To hear the Cornish lilt of Q,
And all those noble songs rehearsed,
Whose deathless melodies imbue:
Q’s Oxford Book of English Verse.

L’Envoi

Kind reader, here's a tip for you:
Go buy, though skinny be your purse
And other books of yours be few:
Q’s Oxford Book of English Verse;
‘Tis a classical education in a box,
Worldly sins and Righteous wisdom, unlocks;
Buy every book from every store and still you’d do worse,
Than if you had this single title:
Q’s Oxford Book of English Verse.

2 comments:

Amy said...

Didn't a friend of yours write that poem?

George said...

Amy:

That's the rumor.