Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Library Book Sale Swag

So the Friends of the Multnomah County Public Library had our East County booksale a few weeks back, and it was all very successful, thank you. When you are working a booksale, you tend to take a lot of breaks, and gradually you develop a little stack of your own books, and before you know it you are carrying three boxes of books home, from which you will over the next year gradually donate 2/3 of your scores back to the booksale. But that's cool. And as usual this year, I felt my own harvest was brilliant. Here are three highlights.

Very Bad Poetry

Although finding a volume's worth of bad poetry is rather shooting fish in a barrel, this collection is a particularly impressive collection. Picking a few verses out at random:
What on this wide earth,
That is made, or does by nature grow,
Is more homely, yet more beautiful,
Than the useful Potato?
Or here's one from Canto IV of a two-hundred-page poem on the steam engine:

Lord Stanhope hit upon a novel plan
Of bringing forth this vast Leviathan
(This notion first Genevois' genius struck);
His frame was made to emulate the duck;

Webb'd feet had he, in Ocean's brine to play;
With whale-like might he whirl'd aloft to spray;
But made with all this splash little speed;
Alas! the duck was doom'd not to succeed!
(The book does not contain the full two-hundred pages.)

But it's not all potatos and steamships. There's pathos!

Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one good grave,
But I hope God is His goodness their souls will save.

The Poetry of Rock

Dating, like michael5000, from 1968, The Poetry of Rock is an early assay into the idea that rock lyrics can be, like, ~poetry~, man! It is very groovy. And certainly, it managed to collect some of the songs that have come to be considered poetry, or at least poetic, over the years. "Desolation Row" and "A Day in the Life" and "The Sound of Silence" are all here, as are, well, things like "Horse Latitudes" and "A Whiter Shade of Pale." But as you'd probably expect most of this poetry ranges from the just-barely plausible...

....to the ridiculous....

...to the sublimely ridiculous.

I particularly enjoy the subtlety of the last verse of Van Morrison's poem, "Brown-Eyed Girl."
Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la
la la la la
la la te da
Sha la la la la
la la la la
la la te da
la te da

"...plus 16 pages of freaky, familiar Rock heads!" Rendered in unbelievably hokey 60s line-drawing and photo art!

Plus, a decent 100ish year old binding of Don Quixote in two volumes

I doubt there's anything particularly special about this printing, but it's fun to have an old-school copy of the Cervantes, which I am reading right now in the Reading List project.

It's kind of instructive to compare the translation I'm reading with the nineteenth century tranlation in these volumes. Mostly what it instructs is, don't try to read a classic in an older translation!


jovaliquilts said...

I think Brown Eyed Girl gives so much room for the reader to participate in the poetic experience -- just what does he mean by 'da,' and what are the subtleties of three vs. four da's, or the sudden shift to yip yip yip? It well deserves pride of place in that volume.

DrSchnell said...

Awesome! I'm especially intrigued by the idea of a 200 page poem on the steam engine! I have a copy of Hugh Macdairmid's book-length poem called "A Drunk Man Looks at a Thistle", in which, well, you know what happens. And the writing out of the lyrics of Get a Job are hilarious.
If there's anything better than library book sales, I don't know what it is. Even the tiny one that K-town public library has always has some good finds. My mom is on the board for the Norman library book sale, so now I appreciate the huge amount of work that goes in to putting one of those things on.

Michael5000 said...

A Drunk Man Looks at a Thistle looks kind of awesome. Also, unreadable. Pity.