For a Bookshop

on its 125th anniversary

Hot, bothered and with weary feet,
I came at last to College Street.
Where else should books and people meet
but at Das Gupta’s?

As if my mind knew a cool breeze,
as if my soul knew shade of trees,
I strode delighted and at ease
up to Das Gupta’s.

The street’s a planet littered with books,
a crazed sales-pitch wherever one looks.
Yet there’s a place of crannies and nooks . . .
it’s here, Das Gupta’s!

* * *

Go in. A ranging old-style home
allows one to be still, to roam
past dictionary and learned tome.
A winding staircase

leads up to hidden rooms – who knows? –
a timeless hoard of poems and prose.
Back through the generations goes
a winding staircase

of beaten iron, that somehow shares
a city’s step. Successive heirs
half-sense the witness that it bears,
a winding staircase.

* * *

A grand shop’s too much of a gamble.
Shakespeare & Co. is scarcely humble.
As for Blackwells, or Barnes and Noble –
they’re not Das Gupta’s!

One thought has been there from its birth:
it’s not a book’s price but a book’s worth
that counts. Fine traders, down-to-earth,
I’d say Das Gupta’s

stands on an unseen pedestal.
It’s no less than a Kolkatan jewel.
I leave refreshed, with my arms full.
Long live Das Gupta’s!

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