In what should have been front page news , Townsville's veritable Aladdin's Cave of Wonders , Virgil's Antiques and junk shop , recently re-opened -only on Saturdays - after a long break, and Little Darwin eagerly rushed in , looking for oddities, glasses fogging up with excitement . Where to start ? A trio of unusual long case clocks , a vast array of souvenir china , vases galore, badges, jewellery , containers of books , postcards , a fabulous carved Chinese bookcase (sold ) , paintings , prints, flags , a black lady lamp (sold), furniture, Toby jug miniatures , sheetmusic, records, clothing , musical instruments, an explorer's pith helmet...it was Seventh Heaven .
After burrowing into piles of books and rifling through a box or two of postcards , Little Darwin came away with the usual odd assortment of battered items , one of which is the nibbled 1937 Literary Gems I Love-And Why, the first in a series named The Garden of Love , selected by Australian and New Zealand woman with their comments , published by New Idea, Stanley Street, West Melbourne.
|Maud in the meadows , rather than a garden .|
The editor explained this little volume contained the cream of a popular "department "in The New Idea . Many of the Gems were valued by their senders , not alone for their literary excellence -some of them would doubtless be scorned by the critic as having no literary excellence -but for their association . "It is no uncommon thing for a reader to send us a slip of yellow newspaper that once was white, bearing, in print that once was black , a few verses that represent to her the finest thing in literature , because they are associated with some great crisis in her life . Other Gems, of course, are sent because their beauty , their truth , their helpfulness , or their cleverness have made them seem worthy of being passed on for the delight or help of fellow readers ..."
Further books in this series would be Babyland and Motherhood and Comfort and Sympathy .
There is special mention of Tennyson and his love songs , "Maud " being a particular favourite of a woman in Richmond , NSW , who wrote ..."What a shame it is that so many of our best pieces of poetry suffer from that contempt which is bred by familiarity. Take Hamlet's soliliquy , for example , that magnificent bit of poetry , and if you read the first two lines to a company , nine tenths of them will wonder if you are going to give a humorous reading . Who recites 'Come into the Garden , Maud ,'without a smile ? And yet think of the exquisite poetry of those verses . I am sending several of them as my favourite Literary Gems , hoping as many of them as possible will be spared to see the light of print ."
Many of the items have Love in the title , Browning mentioned frequently . Only identified as T.L.O., of Townsville , Queensland , she submitted Love Much about men's souls contracting with cold suspicion who need warm love to shine upon them. Others -Love is All , Made to be Loved , My Sweetheart, For Love of You, Those We Love the Most , Spinster, What is True Love, What My Lover Said , A Pearl , a Girl , First Love.
From Auckland , New Zealand , a person identified as M.K.D. expressed annoyance "in these days of drooping, flippant flappers ." A Rockhampton contributor asked why little squabbles and mean understandings so often spoil a great romance . Such blunders in love should read a poem , You and I , by Emily Westwood Lewis .
Clipped from a San Francisco paper was a beautiful love poem written by Homer Greene. J.S.S. of Dunedin , New Zealand , another Browning lover, provided Life in a Love . Two verses from a Swedish love song were submitted " to prove that love is love the world over , whether under the wattle-boughs or up against the (ice) bergs ." The latter position decidedly uncomfortable and somewhat frigid , you would think .
MALE UPSETS MAUD AND HER SISTERS
Near the end of the booklet was this controversial contribution by "A Man " , in Melbourne , who had sent in" a fighting song" that contrasted with the many love ditties , saying he believed love is "but drifting sands ."