Churchtown, Dundrum: Cuala Press, 1920. First edition, first printing. One of only 400 printed. Octavo. Original blue paper boards with buff linen spine. All edges untrimmed. In the original plain tan dust jacket, preserved in glassine wrap, with chipping to dust jacket (particularly to spine). Preserved in a custom clamshell box. A brilliant first printing of this monumental work in the exceedingly rare original dust jacket. Item #89
A remarkably bright first printing—in the scarce original dust jacket—of one of W.B. Yeats’s (1865–1939) most important poetry collections. One of only 400 printed. Michael Robartes and the Dancer includes the first book printing of some of Yeats’s most famous poems, including “The Second Coming,” “Easter, 1916,” and “A Prayer for My Daughter.” The book was printed and published by Yeats’s sister, Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, and, according to its colophon, was completed on All Soul’s Day (November 1st) 1920—although Wade (a Yeats editor and bibliographer) claims the book was not actually published until February 1921. Elizabeth Corbet Yeats founded the Cuala Press in 1908 with assistance from her brother after training as a printer at the Women’s Printing Society in London. The Cuala Press was unique for being the only press managed and staffed by women, and because it printed new works as opposed to classics. The press would publish works by W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and other poets influential in the Celtic Revival movement of the early twentieth century, and would publish over seventy titles before closing in 1946. Among those titles was Michael Robartes and the Dancer, which include poems preoccupied with the themes of sexuality and politics, and poems now deemed to be among Yeats’s most consequential, including “The Second Coming,” “Easter, 1916,” and “A Prayer for My Daughter,” most of which had previously appeared in The Nation and The Dial. An exceptionally scarce and bright copy of this important collection by a modern great—and the first book printing of one of the most widely quoted poems of the twentieth century:
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?