Ode to the Bookwitch

If I’m not careful I’ll sprout poetry or something. I feel as if I could do anything. Almost. Were it not for the knees.

Yesterday the Resident IT Consultant and I celebrated something which has not happened yet. Family and friends turned out to be quite skilled at cheating at giving no presents [by strict order], and it’s really interesting to see what lengths people will go to. Flowers are ‘not really gifts.’ Cardamom pods don’t count. A bag if not wrapped, likewise. Nice try my friends, and so kind of you.

And then there was Helen Grant who felt that writing an ode was no present either, having slaved away over her Keatsian style poetry for hours. Weeks? Maybe months? She has generously agreed to my sharing it with you.

Ode to the Bookwitch on her 60th Birthday

If Sweden’s ever mentioned, you will find

(Though less well known than Germany or France)

That certain things will quickly come to mind

Like Stockholm Syndrome, ABBA, or perchance

Surströmming with its most distinctive whiff.

The Billy bookcase from IKEA – yes! –

Has fixed the Swedish nation in our hearts

Though we’d be joyful if

We didn’t have to scratch our heads and guess

The way to make the bookcase from the parts.


This smörgåsbord of Swedish joys bestowed

Upon the grateful world is not complete

Unless we list the Swedish folk who’ve showed

How ripe with talent is their land, replete

With expertise and triumph – only look

At Greta Garbo, Björn Borg and poor

Stieg Larsson, sadly cut off in his prime,

The Muppets’ Swedish cook

And PewDiePie and many, many more

That I could name if only I’d the time.


And now I feel the time has come to name

Another Swede we ought to celebrate,

Who also has achieved a certain fame

By telling us which books are crap or great.

The Bookwitch works her magic all the year;

She lovingly composes each review

With honesty – no flattery or spite;

She bravely does not fear

To give her praise where praise is clearly due

But warn us if the book is rather shite.


But why, you ask, would anybody swap

The wondrous land of Sweden for these shores?

Precipitation never seems to stop

And only ducks can stand it out of doors.

Yet even witches have a tender heart,

In spite of how formidable they look,

And love can cast a spell they can’t withstand.

So, as to live apart

Would be a tragic ending to life’s book,

She made her future in this barb’rous land.


Two masterpieces of her own she’s done:

A debut work and then a sequel too!

The first a rather literary one,

The other, scientific through and through.

Her sixty years she bears with girlish ease

As magic through the ages shall prevail

And witches never really show their age

(Except perhaps their knees);

So may her story be a merry tale

With happiness until the final page.

[Helen Grant 15/5/2016]

Isn’t that great? And kind? I should really wait until the right day, but my heart is full now, so I won’t delay.

(But I got my ‘revenge.’ One guest rather carelessly suggested that if we wanted nothing because we already have too much, perhaps they could assist by taking stuff home with them. So I forced partybags on them as they left… That’ll teach him.)

9 responses to “Ode to the Bookwitch

  1. Yes, it’s a little early–but fabulous.

    Some friends have offered to throw me a party, but now I’ll have to tell them that poetry is expected…

    Seriously lovely, though. Congratulations.

  2. Maureen Farrell

    As a fellow ‘sufferer’ later this month – Happy significant birthday when it comes

  3. Grattis I förskott! Vi blir 60 systrar en liten stund I allafall 🙂

  4. Linda Lawlor

    Many happy returns!

  5. Happy (early) birthday. Great poem!

  6. Sounds like your cheating guests struck just the right note … especially that Helen Grant! Happy significance! So much to be celebrated. Well done and thank you for being the Book Witch of all witches.

  7. My next challenge is to write a Norse saga with the Bookwitch as the heroine, in time for her 70th…
    Many Happy Returns to a beloved blogger!

  8. Pingback: Frightfully old people | Bookwitch

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