Unearthing Buried Treasure

Wit and WisdomI read. A lot. To be truthful, these days I read a lot of beginnings of books, get distracted and then start another one. I’ve developed a short literary attention span.

I keep telling myself that I should stop buying until I catch up with my to-read pile but I can’t help myself. It’s in my DNA – I’m a book hoarder, or collector if I’m trying to sound distinguished. They’ll come in handy for that library I’m going to have one day. Or so I keep telling myself.

I found the latest addition to my ever-expanding collection last week. On Friday past, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter was transformed into a buzzing hive of cultural activity for Culture Night. We saw lots of impromptu arty and cultural stuff, including a fencing match on the side of the street, children painting chalk drawings on roads, a Beat Carnival interpretation of Tusk, drum circles, community choirs and much more besides.

My most exciting Culture Night find, however, was stumbling upon a little bookshop I’d never noticed before. Located on Lower North Street in the heart of the city centre is a true treasure trove. Simply named, The Bookstore, it’s jam-packed with books of all genres, with shelves and additional stacks piled high, from floor to ceiling.

In the poetry section, I uncovered a copy of Hood’s Poems of Wit and Wisdom, published in 1856 and still bearing its W.H. Smith & Sons subscription library  sticker on the front cover, which, if my research serves me correctly, was an early venture by well-known known newsagents chain, W.H.Smith.

I paid £5 for it and I doubt it’s worth much more; it’s bruised and battered but still beautiful. It also provides an interesting opportunity to look back at poetry of yore.

If you’re to judge a book by its name, Hood’s work delivers both wit and wisdom, as well as a chance to examine the language used by poets in the 1800s.

I’ve dipped in and out of it since last week and have enjoyed the journey thus far. I’ve scanned in a few of the shorter poems, so you can have a read for yourself. Would love to hear your thoughts.


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