World Book Day 2022

Date Published: 3rd March 2022

In celebration of World Book Day and recognition of those suffering in Eastern Europe, Alexander shares this new poem:

In troubled times

A poem for World Book Day, 2022

Somewhere as I write these lines
Armies clash, the speechless innocent flee,
The rumbling armour and the fire,
And skies, once clear and optimistic,
Darken with intended smoke;
In the classroom, incredulous children,
We sit mute with shock, as history
Wags her firm admonitory finger,
Reminds us of the foolishness
Of forgetting how things
Have a way of being, however much
We think we’ve put all that away,
The past is never far away, she says,
The past recurs, again and then once more.

In shadows and in darkness,
In moments of despair
At how malignant ambition can
Threaten the ordinary lives
Of unexceptional people,
We turn, when we can,
To the things that help,
Of which love and charity,
Are the main foundations;
And seek in books, those universal
Depositaries of human truth,
The things we want and need
To make us strong, the evidence
To prove that light will still exist
The darker it otherwise gets,
And will be there, stubbornly
Glorious on the printed page.

By Alexander McCall Smith