Why I Have Never Read War and Peace: Ten Excuses

by Brian Bilston

I
I've always meant to read it;
I really like the sound of it.
I had set aside the nineties
but never quite got round to it.

II
I won't read the first half.
It's because I'm a pacifist.
I hope one day it gets abridged
but without all the nasty bits.

III
The print's too small to read;
it makes my interest dwindle.
I tried to read the ebook
but it was too big for my Kindle.

IV
I'm afraid it's not for me.
I loved Tolstoy 1, 2 and 3
but I won't read this because
there is no Woody or Buzz.

V
I think I left it on the bus.
Or perhaps my dog ate it --
although it may have been the cat
(she thinks Tolstoy's over-rated).

VI
I've been stuck
on the first line
since nineteen ninety-nine.

VII
One day I'm sure I'll read it.
That has always been the plan.
But my concentration wavers
and I have a short attention Spanish omelette? Fabulous.

VIII
I find it too weighty.
I feel like I'm eighty.
It's not so much the length,
I just don't have the strength
to read more than a page in a sitting.
Some say it's unputdownable,
but unpickupable is more fitting.

IX
I would like to read it;
I really have the itch.
But the characters' names
all sound the same
and I won't know vich is vich.

X
I fully intend to start it soon;
it is just a matter of when.
For the last ten years
I've been reading around it:
the jacket, the blurb, the ISBN.

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