Scottish Poetry Selection
- Ballade of the Bookworm

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) was an academic who graduated from both Edinburgh and then Oxford Universities. As well as poetry, he co-wrote a prose translation of Homer's "Odyssey" and the "Iliad" and produced other scholarly books on Homer and his times.

Nearer home, he threw fresh light on the life of Mary Queen of Scots and wrote monographs on "The Portraits and Jewels of Mary Stuart" and "James VI and the Gowrie Mystery". His unfavourable view of John Knox in his book "John Knox and the Reformation" produced considerable controversy when it was published in 1905. So he was well versed to produce a humorous poem on the subject of a "bookworm".

Ballade of the Bookworm

Far in the Past I peer, and see
   A Child upon the Nursery floor,
A Child with books upon his knee,
   Who asks, like Oliver, for more!
The number of his years is IV,
   And yet in Letters hath he skill,
How deep he dives in Fairy-lore!
   The Books I loved, I love them still!

One gift the Fairies gave me: (Three
   They commonly bestowed of yore)
The Love of Books, the Golden Key
   That opens the Enchanted Door;
Behind it BLUEBEARD lurks, and o'er
   And o'er doth JACK his Giants kill,
And there is all ALADDIN'S store, -
   The Books I loved, I love them still!

Take all, but leave my Books to me!
   These heavy creels of old we bore
We fill not now, nor wander free,
   Nor wear the heart that once we wore;
Not now each River seems to pour
   His waters from the Muses' hill;
Though something's gone from stream and shore,
   The Books I loved, I love them still!


Fate, that art Queen by shore and sea,
   We bow submissive to thy will,
Ah grant, by some benign decree,
   The Books I loved - to love them still.

Return to the Index of Scottish Poetry Selection

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line