When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
— Michel de Montaigne, Les Essais

HOPCYN'S
VIRTUAL BOOKSHOP

What is a Virtual Bookshop? It is a new idea about how to buy your books online. Our Virtual Bookshop has a choice small collection which you can visit any time without needing to catch a bus, brave the cold, carry an umbrella, or juggle your shopping and handbag at the same time as looking at the books.

 

ALEXANDER SHIHWARG

at whose recent death obituaries appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Financial Times, and the Guardian. Shura was an immensely loved character. He wrote in English, despite his equal fluency in Russian and Chinese. He was lively, brilliantly entertaining and witty right until his death at the age of 96, and Hopcyn Press is proud to have published this small collection of his poems before he died. We warmly recommend an armchair read if you would like to be put in a good mood for the rest of the day.

 
 

In The Virtual Bookshop, you can take a detailed look at any title that interests you by clicking on the word ARMCHAIR under the cover picture. Armchair refers to our assumption that that is where you want to sit to really enjoy checking out any book that takes your fancy. TRY IT NOW. You will find everything about that book, plus the look and feel of it, the price, any reviews, a good lengthy extract, any illustrations, about the author and a description of the contents.

To buy your book directly (and have it delivered) simply click on the word BUY under the cover.

To browse all the titles in our collection click on Books now, or have a look at the sample Armchair copy below.


MIRROR MIRROR

By Alexander Shihwarg

Poetry, Paperback, £7.99 in most bookshops or click on BUY for direct link to Amazon discounted price, plus delivery.

THE AUTHOR

Alexander (Shura) Shihwarg was a lively, brilliantly entertaining and witty speaker until his death at 96 in 2018. He would describe himself as a Russian poet whose parents fled the Bolshevic revolution, ending up not in Paris, but in China. He was schooled in Tientsin Grammar and of course speaks bilingual Chinese, as well as Russian and English with no accent whatsoever. He then went to Hong Kong university, where he saw the Japanese bombs fall and decided to enroll in the British Army. He was a prisoner of the Japanese for three years, and came to England immediately after the war with the intention of going to Oxford University to study English Literature.

He successfully did that, followed by a career in London, where he lived in Chelsea and met and married the beautiful Joan Wyndham.

His stores of pre-war China in his school days are not-to-miss. His poems deal with all these subjects.

DESCRIPTION

The poems celebrate beautiful women, cats, pithy and wryly funny meditations and combine the hilariously funny with the tragic experiences of war. As JILLY COOPER says on the Book cover:

“I adore Shura Shihwarg, who I have known for more than fifty years, and his poetry. His poems are lyrical, touching, by turn both heartbreaking and extremely funny and go straight to the heart. They are also – a rare thing in modern poetry – totally understandable. Readers are in for a real treat.”

 
 Shura aged 5.

Shura aged 5.

 

Spring.

Somewhere the Spring was struggling to be born.
I felt its birth pangs underneath the snow.
And on the frost-edged, snowdrop-haunted morn
the waking up was difficult and slow.

An ancient dinosaur, I stretch and rise,
burnish my scales and scrub away my sins
as underneath the blue forgiving skies
the hocus-crocus of the Spring begins.

MIRROR, MIRROR . . 

I looked into the mirror
and it looked back at me.
“Your life is at an ebb” it said,
“and you’re wrinkled like the sea.”

“The Spring will not awaken you.
Autumn’s in every pore,
and Time has overtaken you
as the ocean laps the shore.”

“But” I replied, “with due respect,
you fail to make me sad.
No smart-arsed mirror can reflect
the glorious times I’ve had. 

To Joan at 80

Now you are four score years, my love,
and God’s still smiling from above
let’s hope that after the champagne
this sweet scenario stays the same.
The beauty that invests your face,
your spirit, and your boundless grace;
all that I’ve cherished from the start,
stay firmly anchored in your heart.
So take a younger man’s advice –
Youth was the prize – age is the price.
But do not fear to turn the page.
There lurks a second youth in age,
and as the sand falls in the glass,
kick the Grim Reaper in the arse.

To read all the poems yourself, or to give the book as a gift to your friends, click on BUY