London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1920. Clarke, Harry. First and Limited Edition. Vellum. No. 9 of 250 deluxe copies, quarto size, 128 pp., signed by Harry Clarke, in a custom slipcase. Near fine. Item #21012201
Published in 1920, just two years after the ending of "The Great War", this collection of poetry resounds with the joy of life in its many aspects; the splendor of the land, the laughter of children, and a particular love for England, which had just emerged from a brutal war in which almost 900,000 young men lost their lives. Although included are several poems which might be classified as "war poetry" this ought not to surprise given the effect of WWI on England; five of the included authors died "as soldiers in the European War" (n.b., quote from Introduction).
Harold Monro (1879-1932), not only a poet himself but the proprietor of the Poetry Bookshop in Bloomsbury, penned a stellar introduction to this anthology collected by Lettice D'Oyly Walters (b. 1880) who, again, was a poet as well as editor and typesetter (at The Swan Press, Chelsea). The collection includes names better-known one hundred years ago than today, but each was chosen specifically to add to the unity of the collection: represented are Hilaire Belloc, Rupert Brooke, G.K. Chesterton, W.H. Davies, Walter de la Mare, Rose Fyleman, Robert Graves, Julian Grenfell, Thomas Hardy, Alice Meynell, H.D.C. Pepler, and W.B. Yeats - among others.
The highlight of this anthology are the illustrations by Irish artist Harry (Henry Patrick) Clarke (1890-1931), who would become a leading figure in the arts and crafts movement. Clarke was apprenticed as a glass-maker to his father, the head of a large firm of stained glass artists, in 1906. An accomplished glass artist whose work can be seen in both secular and religious settings, Clarke's illustrations can be compared to that of Aubrey Beardsley, Kay Nielson, and Edmund Dulac, taken up during the tail end of what was considered the Golden Age of Illustration; his work is often imbued with a sinister atmosphere also exemplified by Beardsley. "The Year's at the Spring" was published a few years prior to the colour illustrations he did for Poe's "Tales of Mystery and Imagination"; however, we see in this work the highly detailed drawings which take on an almost psychedelic quality, far ahead of their time, and which eerie beauty still fascinates today.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in full vellum over boards, decoration on the front cover of a woman in a flowing robe in yellow, lavender and gilt with gilt lettering below, gilt lettering and decoration on the spine, top edge gilt, fore-edge uncut, illustrated title page, embellished with twelve full-page colour plates, twelve full-page monotone images, and many black-and-white in-text illustrations throughout; quarto size (10.75" by 8.5"), pagination: [1-4] 5-128. In a custom slipcase covered in blue buckram and lined with light peach laid paper.
___CONDITION: Near fine, the vellum boards clean and with only a few light marks, the boards minimally warped as is common for vellum, straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the ivory silk ribbon marker present but detached, and entirely free of prior owner markings; some light foxing and toning throughout, a shallow crease to the fore-edge of the front free endpaper, and an old dampstain on the rear free endpaper not affecting the text pages. The slipcase near fine, the outer cloth clean and without wear, the case strong and sturdy without any splits or tears, the interior paper with a few scattered spots of soil and wear. Overall a lovely example.
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