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W. B. Yeats - Poems, with binding design by Althea Gyles - 1908

Lot reference 33499699

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Literature, Poetry, Art Nouveau - Quantity: 1 - Book

Object: Book (More lots)
Number of Books: 1
Subject: Art Nouveau, Literature, Poetry
Author/ Illustrator: W. B. Yeats
Book Title: Poems, with binding design by Althea Gyles
Condition: Very good
Publication year oldest item: 1908
Edition: 1st Edition Thus
Language: English
Original language: Yes
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin, London
Binding/ Material: Hardback

Publisher’s dark-blue cloth with elaborate gilt designs to boards and spine, page edges untrimmed, frontispiece portrait of Yeats (with tissue guard), title page in red and black, xiii / 301 pages, 21.3 x 14 cm.

Fifth edition, 1908 (first published 1895).

First edition thus, incorporating the revisions of the 1901 third edition,
 and with a bibliographical note from the 1904 fourth edition, here revised to include the 1908 date of publication.
Wade 20.



This important collection of poems by the eminent Irish poet William Butler Yeats, originally published in 1895, was his first ‘collected verse’. Revised fourteen times over the next three decades, it would prove to be financially his most successful work, bringing him “twenty or thirty times as much (money) as all my other books put together”.



The earliest editions (as here) featured beautiful gilt cover decorations by the Irish poet and artist Althea Gyles – an interesting and eccentric bohemian figure, whom Roy Foster, in ‘W. B. Yeats: A Life’, describes as “fey and slightly manic”. Born in 1867, she was connected to some of the leading literary figures of the 1890s, including Yeats, Ernest Dowson and Leonard Smithers, and was also a member of the occult society the Order of the Golden Dawn. She produced several exquisite cover designs for Yeats and Dowson, while Smithers “paid her seventy pounds for her ‘five weirdly powerful and beautiful drawings’ for his pirated edition of [Oscar] Wilde’s ‘The Harlot’s House’ (1904). Wilde called her ‘an artist of great ability’ ” (Murchison, ‘Black Magic Against the Beast: Episodes in the Life of the “Strange Red-Haired Girl” ’).



Of Yeats’ ‘Poems’, Foster writes (pp. 149-152) that the collection includes “… all the writer cares to preserve out of his previous volumes of verse … ‘Poems’ contains many of his best early poems, including ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, ‘When You are Old’, ‘To Ireland in the Coming Times’, and ‘The Man who Dreamed of Faeryland’, among others. The title-poem of ‘The Wanderings of Oisin’ (rechristened, temporarily ‘Usheen’) was pared down and lost some (not all) of its romantic embellishment. ‘The Countess Kathleen’ followed, shortened and made more dramatic. After ‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’ a selection of the shorter poems from his first collection were re-arranged under the title ‘Crossways’ – proving that they represented what WBY now viewed as a period of experiment. Another group of lyrics, chiefly from ‘The Countess Kathleen’, were grouped together as ‘The Rose’ … overall the themes that emerged emphasized tradition, beauty, and the Celtic essence, while politics and ‘the world’ were shunned.”



A significant work, scarce in any of the early editions – here very well preserved for age.

Condition:
Contents bright, very clean. Foxing to first and last few leaves, one short closed tear, title page with very slight offsetting from tissue guard, frontispiece with tiny nick, one spread with light foxing/browning (probably from piece of paper previously laid in), untrimmed (exposed) edges and corners with usual foxing, bumping, creasing, nicks and wear. Endpapers with usual foxing/offsetting; front endpapers with pictorial ex-libris and ink initials of Vivian L. Henderson, plus several small splits to hinge; rear free endpaper with short closed tear. Edges of page block with foxing. Binding a little loose. Boards and spine with rubbing and marks as shown, slight bumping and wear to extremities.

Gb carbonel  

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