MADRIGALS & CHRONICLES: Being Newly Found Poems Written by John Clare.

First edition. Signed by the author. One of 310 numbered copies, this being no. 278. Inscribed presentation copy, with a recently discovered poem by Clare, handwritten from memory by Edmund Blunden to the front free endpaper. "Cover and Illustrations designed by Randolph Schwabe; The Typography and Binding arranged and the book produced by Cyril William Beaumont; Printed on his Press at 75 Charing Cross Road in the City of Westminster; Completed on the twentieth day of February MDCCCCXXIV". Quarter oatmeal cloth over pale grey paper-covered boards decorated in yellow and olive with a pattern of flowers and leaves, lettered and ornamented in gilt to the spine. Upper edges trimmed, fore- and lower edges untrimmed. A better than very good copy, the binding square and firm, the contents clean. The boards are a little toned and dusty, the cloth with some light spotting. Liquid stain to the upper portion of front and rear boards, barely visible to the front but evident to front and rear pastedowns. The boards and pages, however, remain straight and true.

With a seven-line poem by John Clare neatly inscribed by hand in black ink to the front free endpaper by Edmund Blunden. Beginning "'Tis Spring: warm glows the South; / Chaffinch carries the moss in his mouth", the poem is not included in the book and was, Blunden writes following the poem, "Clare's latest fragment of verse, in the / Northampton Asylum. / Recollected for / Robert Coope's copy by Edmund Blunden, Jan. 17, 1930". The poem would indeed be the final poem collected in Geoffrey Grigson's important 1949 edition of the 'Poems of John Clare's Madness' and wasn't printed in any form until John Tibble included it in his 1935 two-volume edition of Clare's poems, making Blunden's transcription of the poem almost certainly its first appearance anywhere outside the Peterborough Museum. Blunden wrote down the poem from memory and there are couple of slips ("cheers" for "charms" l. 4; "chilly" for "sedgy" l. 5). Blunden was foremost among a handful of significant early twentieth-century champions of Clare's poetry. Routinely dismissed, condescended to, and bowdlerised during the nineteenth century, Clare was either "the Northamptonshire Peasant poet" or "poor mad Clare". It wasn't until 1908, when Arthur Symons (friend of Yeats and author of a pioneering book on French Symbolism), published his edition of the poems that Clare's greatness was properly recognised. Among those struck by Symons' edition were the poets Edward Thomas and Edmund Blunden. Following the war (which killed Thomas), in the spring of 1920, Blunden along with Alan Porter (the editor of The Spectator) made the first proper examination of the Clare manuscripts held at the Peterborough Museum. The fruits of these investigations were two freshly edited volumes of Clare's poems, 'Poems Chiefly from Manuscript' (1920) and 'Madrigals and Chronicles' (1924), books which changed the face of Clare studies, paving the way for John Tibble and Geoffrey Grigson in the thirties and forties. Robert Coope (1892-1972), the owner of this copy of 'Madrigals and Chronicles' was born in Pilsley, Derbyshire, serving in both wars, the second as a doctor. (Kirkpatrick B14).

Stock code: 24681


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London: The Beaumont Press.


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