Sunday, October 30, 2016


What  happened  when   Maud and I  were  enticed  into Virgil's amazing garden.

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 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 .  
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 ."