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(SAPPHO.) CARMAN, Bliss.

Sappho, One Hundred Lyrics.

With an introduction by Charles G. D. Roberts.

Toronto, The Copp, Clark Co., 1905 Stock Code: 141178
£350.00

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Notes

First edition, first printing, Canadian issue published in 1905 using the sheets of the first edition published in Boston in 1904. The colophon on the title page verso restates the first edition's imprint, being one of 500 copies (this number 453) printed in 1903 "with the type distributed". Both the US and Canadian issues are scarce, the latter apparently more so, and appropriate insofar as Carman is considered Canada's first poet laureate. Sappho, One Hundred Lyrics was the first comprehensive and fully imagined rendering into English of the fragmentary poems of Sappho. In 1902 Mitchell Kennerley gave Carman a copy of H. T. Wharton's Sappho (1885) and suggested that he poeticise Wharton's more literal translations. Inspired by Wharton Carman set to work reassembling the surviving Sappho fragments, fleshing them out with his own additions. Fellow Canadian poet Charles G. D. Roberts, in his Introduction to the book, glossed Carman's method thus: "It is as if a sculptor of to-day were to set himself, with reverence, and trained craftsmanship, and studious familiarity with the spirit, technique, and atmosphere of his subject, to restore some statues of Polyclitus or Praxiteles of which he had but a broken arm, a foot, a knee, a finger upon which to build". The work is often considered his "finest volume of poetry" (Dictionary of Canadian Biography). It is particularly notable for making Sappho accessible and exciting to a wider, non-academic, audience. It was read and admired in particular by modernist poets such as Wallace Stephens and Ezra Pound. Indeed, critic D. M. R. Bentley has suggested that "the brief, crisp lyrics of the Sappho volume almost certainly contributed to the aesthetic and practice of Imagism" (Bentley).

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Description

Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to front cover in gilt, frame blocked in blind to front cover, green Greek key roll frames to endpapers,

Illustrations

Greek key frame printed in green to title page.

Condition

Rubbing to ends and corners with some gilt loss from spine, faint mark to front board, sound and clean within, very good.

Bibliography

Bentley, D.R., "Preface: Minor Poets of a Superior Order" in Canadian Poetry: Studies/Documents/Reviews, No. 14 (Spring/Summer 1984).

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