The Joy of Serendipity

On Monday I was hurrying along the street towards the railway station when I came upon an Oxfam bookshop. I didn’t really have time to stop but I could see a very attractive classics section just inside the door and decided I could spare a couple of minutes to browse that at least.

There were some good books there but nothing I wanted to buy and I was just turning away when my eye fell on the poetry section – specifically a book of medieval Latin lyrics.

In a few weeks I will be going to the Cheltenham Literary Festival and I am especially excited about a talk on how to read a Latin poem. This focuses specifically on two poems – one (part of Ovid’s Amores) I have already and the other the Confession of the Archpoet which I have been struggling a bit to find. The problem is that I want an edition with both the Latin and the English translation – although I have done some Latin I am not yet good enough to read a whole poem easily but I didn’t want to just have the translation which would kind of defeat the point!

Anyway, there I was in the bookshop with the Latin lyrics in my hand and thinking that the Confession is a medieval poem – and a pretty famous one at that. Surely it might well be in this very book? A quick flick through located it and even better it was there in both Latin and English. I snatched it up. Thankfully I also managed to catch my train home.

It just goes to show – it is always a good idea to visit any bookshop you may come across!

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