I've always had an affinity for poetry. I'm a huge fan of American Poets. Whitman, Ginsburg, William Carlos Williams and Mary Oliver are some of my favorite writers, ever.
But there's one English poet that I discovered at 16 that spoke to my teen angst. Aside from Poe, he was the only poet who articulated the melancholy and darkness I was feeling at the time. I'm talking about T. S. Eliot and his master work "The Waste Land".
April is the cruelest month/breeding lilacs out of the dead land/Mixing memory and desire/stirring dull roots with spring rain.
The first time I read that line was shortly after my 16th Birthday which falls, you guessed it, in the first week of April. I came of age rather early thanks to a father who was battling addiction when I was a young boy. He made many promises around my birthday which he always broke. By age 8, I had learned to stop believing in what I was told and set store in how people behaved.
Spring can be violent and unpredictable. A sleeping, quiet winter is often awakened thunderously. The rebirth of the world is passionate, often furious. In a way the northern half of the planet where we reside cracks like a seed, bringing forth a new season.
Or so it felt like to me a young, often disappointed teen. So I took solace in the world view spun by Eliot. The bleakness of the Waste Land is unapologetic in it's rage against the hypocrisy of class, avarice and war.
Mostly I identified with the rage part.
I've been put into mind of this by something wonderful that happened today. Mark had been given a couple of books yesterday to research by a Sebastopol resident. She wanted to see if we'd be interested in buying them or perhaps selling them on consignment.
One of the books is "A Visitor" by W. B. Yeats. The copy he'd been given was signed by Yeats. A true rarity this side of the pond. It turns out that the edition was limited to 600 and was published in the early 1900's. It was a delight to handle and research the book. Mark had mentioned that the second book was something published by Hogarth Press.
That rang a bell.
As I carefully unwrapped the book this is what I found:
This my friends is a 1923 Hogarth Press first edition of the Waste Land. Hand made. By a Miss Virginia Woolf. A member of the Bloomsbury Set and a friend of T. S Eliot. Miss Woolf made 460 of these beauties. The hand that wrote Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando made this book.
Next to Poe's Tamerlane and other Poems, This might be the rarest of all poetry books. The history of who was involved with the creation of this little book is staggering. It is a unique, singular object.
And it is now in our store.
Our first 5 figure offering.
Goosebumps doesn't even begin to describe it.