A remarkably diverse treasury of literary celebrations, Books and Libraries is sure to take pride of place on the shelves of the book-obsessed.
Books have long captured the imagination of readers everywhere, commanding their love, earning their veneration. For Emily Dickinson they are frigates that ‘take us Lands away’; for Wordsworth they are ‘a substantial world, both pure and good’; Alberto Rios calls them ‘the deli offerings of civilization itself’. This affection extends to the hallowed gathering places of the written word: libraries where one can best hear “a choir of authors murmuring inside their books,” as Billy Collins has it; bookshops, especially second-hand ones, ‘too small for the worlds they hold, where words that sing you to sleep, stories that stalk your dreams, open like windows in a wall’ (Gillian Clarke).
The poets collected here include Catullus, Horace, T’ao Ch’ien, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ronsard, Lope de Vega, Shakespeare, Marvell, Blake, Pope and Keats; more recent luminaries include Brecht, Cavafy, Gabriela Mistral, Dylan Thomas, Iku Takenaka, Pablo Neruda, Wislawa Szymborska, Anne Stevenson, Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, John Burnside and Ian McMillan.