Philip Larkin’s Centenary: The Trees

Philip Larkin’s Centenary: The Trees

It’s Larkin’s centenary: he was born on 9 August 1922. Trees was written in 1967 and published seven years later in his final collection High Windows. It’s easy to get lost in this poem’s deceptively simple surface. I focus on the rhyme scheme (ABBA) and how its fluctuations keep the unexpected insights (new leaves signify ‘grief’ not joy; ‘no, they die too’) under control, pivoting away from the commonplace thought to reach for a more accurate representation.

Bus Stop Poetry: Inversnaid

Bus Stop Poetry: Inversnaid

London is crisp and dry. Let Gerard Manley Hopkins’ celebration of a Scottish burn wash over you.

Image: Waterfall at Elgin, by Click and Learn Photography, for Unsplash

Herne Hill Shop Window

Herne Hill Shop Window

Great work by the Lionesses – we couldn’t let their triumph go unmarked, and our shop window shows off some of the great sports writing available to buy.

Subterranean

Subterranean

Even in a city as dynamic and vast as London, it’s possible to feel crusted over by routine. U.A. Fanthorpe’s poem about London’s underground rivers reminds us of the ancient world of history and myth beneath our feet. Years ago, when I worked at St Bride’s, I’d catch a whiff of what I fancied was the stink of the Fleet, and it made me glad of the dirty old growler of the City underneath the prim little meetings, the tiny adjustments to documents that passed for work, and sandwich lunches that seemed to make up the days of us worker bees above ground.

Stuck in…1929

Stuck in…1929

Fitzgerald, Freud, Wodehouse and Woolf – some literary highlights from 1929, shopped from my bookshelf. Get ready for the next Stuck in a Book bookclub…

Bus Stop Poetry: Queenhood

Bus Stop Poetry: Queenhood

Well, we couldn’t let the Jubilee go by without a nod to the offering from Simon Armitage, poet Laureate. (Call me old-fashioned, but I disapprove of the word ‘multitasking’ in an ode.)

Bus Stop Poetry: Richard II

Bus Stop Poetry: Richard II

The Platinum Jubilee is upon us and what better choice than Shakespeare to mark the occasion? Republicans and royalists can at least agree that Elizabeth II has not led us into religious wars, egregiously bestowed wealth upon favourites, or sold off chunks of the country to oligarchs and bankers. And for these negative virtues at least, we may thank you ma’am! Have a good Jubilee weekend, whatever your thoughts on monarchy.

Herne Hill bookshop comes to Goose Green

Herne Hill bookshop comes to Goose Green

‘Are you going to Scarborough Fair?’
Actually, the hottest ticket was the Goose Green Fair, part of the Dulwich Festival. Shop manager Kerin led the Oxfam charge on East Dulwich and was rewarded with great returns, both financial and in community engagement.

Bus Stop Poetry: About His Person

Bus Stop Poetry: About His Person

Simon Armitage’s spare inventory hints at a whole life, and the losses and love that might provide reason enough for a death.

Herne Hill Shop Window…Glorious gardens

Herne Hill Shop Window…Glorious gardens

After a dry April, followed by a couple of good inundations and some fabulous sunshine, the gardens of south London are looking just splendid. Assistant shop manager Sarah got to work with some inspiring donations, and now our windows are similarly gorgeous.


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Oxfam Books in Herne Hill, South London, has a great selection of high-quality secondhand books for adults and children. Click to learn more.
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Oxfam is a charity fighting global poverty. Click to find out more about their vital work.