Leaves of Grass.Brooklyn: [published by the author,] 1855 Stock Code: 135889
NotesFirst edition of one of the central works of American poetry. Much has been written of the significance of this first edition"America's second Declaration of Independence" to quote PMM. "The slender volume introduced the poet who, celebrating the nation by celebrating himself, has since remained at the heart of America's cultural memory because in the world of his imagination Americans have learned to recognize and possibly understand their own" (Marki, "Leaves of Grass, 1855 edition," in Walt Whitman, 1998).
The first edition of Leaves of Grass was self-published by Whitman, the type partially hand-set by the poet himself for printing in the Brooklyn Heights shop of Andrew Rome, assisted by his brother, Tom. As the hand-set type jostled and occasionally fell off the hand-inked iron-bed press, each copy is arguably unique. This copy is in Myerson's second state with the copyright information printed (rather than in manuscript) on the copyright page, and the text reading "cities and" on p. iv, column 2, line 4. A total of 795 copies were eventually produced.
Whitman "was and is the poet and prophet of democracy, and the intoxication of his immense affirmative, the fervor of his 'barbaric yawp,' are so powerful that the echo of his crude yet rhythmic song rings forever in the American air" (Grolier, One Hundred).
Quarto (275 x 192 mm). Near-contemporary brown half morocco, titles to spine in gilt, spine in compartments with raised bands ruled in gilt, marbled paper sides ruled in gilt, edges gilt, marbled endpapers. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.
With portrait frontispiece engraved by Samuel Hollyer from a photograph printed on heavy paper, BAL's second state, with tissue guard.
Ownership inscription of "J. S. Thompson" in pencil to frontispiece recto. Judicious tissue reinforcements to inner hinges. Small loss to upper outer tip of pp. v-vi. Neat refurbishment to extremities, frontispiece foxed, contents lightly offset and browned as usual, a couple of faint marginal pencil marks; a very good copy indeed.
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