A Song to David, with other poems.
Chosen with biographical and critical preface and notes by Edmund Blunden.London: Richard Cobden-Sanderson, 1924 Stock Code: 129178
First edition thus, first impression. Presentation copy, inscribed by Blunden ten years after publication to his fellow Oxford tutor Maurice Roy Ridley on the front free endpaper, "M. R. Ridley with E. Blunden's grateful regard - 3 March 1934". Loosely inserted is a manuscript letter from Blunden presenting the work and affectionally answering an accusation from Ridley of having stolen a matchbox, "I wish I had lifted the matchbox, so that I might now do the necessary & end the anxiety. But my wife assures me that there was no matchbox in my clothes and declares that I am the only person she knows whose habit is not to pocket the matches - may you find the relic!" Ridley, a fellow poet and English lecturer was the Chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford, from 1920 until 1945; Blunden was a fellow and tutor at Merton College from 1931 until 1944, and both men published works on Keats during this time. Ridley was also the inspiration for the physical appearance of Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey; Sayers wrote to her friend Muriel St. Clare Byrne on 6 March 1935, "Butmy dear, my heart is BROKEN! I have seen the perfect Peter Wimsey. Height, voice, charm, smile, manner, outline of features, everythingand he isTHE CHAPLAIN OF BALLIOL!! What is the use of anything?" A Song to David was published first published at Sharp's own expense in 1763 and was "praised for its rhapsodic quality and felicities of expression" (ODNB). In the eighteenth century "Smart was admired for the elegance, vivacity, and wit of his minor verse, and above all for his mastery of the religious sublime in the Seatonian poems" (ibid.).
Octavo. Original red cloth, paper label printed in red to spine, top edge trimmed, largely unopened.
Portrait frontispiece of Smart after Reynolds.
Partial loss to browned and rubbed paper label; a near-fine copy.
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