Poem introduction

These new recordings have been commissioned by Pendle Radicals, in partnership with the Finding Ethel project, and made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Pendle Radicals is a part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

The Bookworm

I own no grand baronial hall, 
No pastures rich in wavering corn; 
Leave unto me my love for books, 
And wealth and rank I laugh to scorn. 
I envy not the richest King 
That ever steeped his lips in wine! 
With Count of Monte Christo, I 
Can truly say “The world is mine.” 
The world of books – how broad, how grand! 
Within its volumes, dark and old, 
What priceless gems of living thought 
Their beauties to the mind unfold. 

Text BoxWhat flowers of genius suffuse 
Their sweetness o’er its yellow page! 
Immortal words of truth and fire, 
Echoing down from age to age. 
On wintry nights, when howls the wind, 
And earth lies  ‘neath a shroud of snow, 
I draw the blind and light the lamp, 
And in the world of books I go. 
I read of glorious Italy – 
Around her name what mem’ries throng; 
The land of beauty and of art, 
The home of laughter, love, and song; 
Until methinks I hear the oars 
Cleaving the bright Venetian tide, 
Inhale the scent of southern flowers, 
And see the gay gondolas glide! 

Or through Verona’s ancient streets 
On Fancy’s silken wings I go -  
Those streets where, in the dim dark past 
Walked Juliet and Romeo. 

I read of Greece, downfallen Greece, 
Rev’rence and awe her scenes command; 
Though she has fallen like a star, 
Her light is shed in every land. 

I read of old historic France, 
Where raged the revolution wild, - 
The fountains, streets and boulevards, 
Of Paris, her vivacious child. 

from Rhymes from the Factory (Blackburn: R Denham and Co, 1907), © Ethel Carnie 1907, used by permission of the copyright holder Helen Brown.

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Books by Ethel Carnie Holdsworth