There’s not a great deal I can say about this week’s Random Book(s) Of The Week. I found them, in one of those moments of glorious serendipity which are sadly too rare, hidden in an ancient copy of Milton poems in a charity shop in my homeland of Edmonton. I paid a quid for the Milton and didn’t snitch about the extra treasures inside. Hustling does not end and I was taking a stand against poor book management. I have of course felt guilty ever since so, you know, karma gets you in the end.
From what I can tell these books were published during the Second World War as sort of mini self-help books. Each book is under ten pages and takes the form of a beautifully-illustrated poem.
It’ll All Come Right is essentially the poemification (yep, just invented a word, what of it?) of the great British Blitz spirit/stiff upper lift/Keep Calm & Carry On mentality:
It’ll all come right if there’s sun as well as rain
If you see in spite of losses there is still a little gain
Whereas In Absence offers comfort to those forced apart, by speaking of those bonds that never break:
Throughout our lovely comradeship
Has run a silken thread
That held through all life’s changes
Through each hour of hope or dread
I would love to know the context in which these little books were owned. Were they a gift from someone soon to be departed, to bring comfort during a war-time absence? Or purchased by someone who was finding that whole Come On Now Be British And Do Not Cry thing a bit of a strain and required some kind words? Did Edwina Weston, the previous owner of the Milton according to the carefully-written name on its inner page, have any connection to their story?
Who knows. Such is the mystery of second hand books. We can never know the journey they have been on, but can at least hope they brought joy and solace to whoever owned them before us.