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A Second-hand Bookshop by John Arlott

A Second-hand Bookshop

The sunlight filters through the panes

Of book-shop windows, pockmarked grey

By years of grimy city rains,

And falls in mild, dust-laden ray

Across the stock, in shelf and stack,

Of this old bookshop-man who brought,

To a shabby shop in a cul-de-sac,

Three hundred years of print and thought.

Like a cloak hangs the bookshop smell,

Soothing, unique and reminding:

The book-collector knows its spell,

Subtle hints of books and binding

In the fine, black bookshop dust

Paper, printer's-ink and leather,

Binder's-glue and paper-rust

And time, all mixed together.

`Blake's Poems, Sir-ah, yes, I know,

Bohn did it in the old black binding,

In '83.' Then shuffles slow

To scan his shelves, intent on finding

This book of songs he has not heard,

With that deaf searcher's hopeful frown

Who knows the nightingale a bird

With Feathers grey and reddish-brown.

by John Arlott
Found it in the Book:
Last Liberal and Other Essays by Ramachandra Guha

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