"MAY THESE POOR RHYMES WHEN READ BY YOU BORROW LIGHT FROM THE GREATER GLORY OF THAT PERFECT POEM WHICH IS OUR FRIENDSHIP"
CULLEN, Countee. Color. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1925. Octavo, original half yellow cloth, patterned paper-covered boards, original paper labels affixed to spine and front board. Housed in a custom chemise. $3200.
First edition, early printing of Cullen's first book of verse, with 73 poems by this "central figure in the Harlem Renaissance," including "Yet Do I Marvel," "Heritage" and "Incident," a wonderful presentation/association copy inscribed to Edward Perry, his close friend and likely lover, "Edward, May these poor rhymes when read by you borrow light from the greater glory of that perfect poem which is our friendship. Sincerely, Countie. New York, June 4, 1927."
"With the publication of his first volume of poems in 1925, Color, Countee Cullen assumed the place of a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. The book states the themes—the injustice of colour-prejudice, the black man's African legacy, religious doubt and belief—that were to dominate his work over the 20 years until his death" (Hamilton, 109). "Cullen was one of the most brilliant of the young poets of the era between the two World Wars… His roots went very deep into lyric soil" (New York Times). Early issue, without "First Edition" on copyright page, and a code "L-A," indicating publication in December 1926. The first issue was from August 1925. Without dust jacket, rarely found. Blockson 5027. The recipient of this copy was Broadway dancer and actor Edward Perry. Cullen met Edward Perry around 1925, later serving as an usher at Cullen's wedding in 1928 to Yolande Du Bois, daughter of W.E.B. Du Bois. Notwithstanding his marriages, Cullen is usually regarded (and was then regarded) as gay, although he was always very circumspect about his sexuality. One of Cullen's biographers, Charles Molesworth, says that Perry "was likely on sexually intimate terms with him as early as 1927," the year of this inscription (And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countee Cullen, 127). Cullen dedicated the poem "More Than a Fool's Song," published in 1927 in the collection Copper Sun, to Perry.
Text fine, inner paper hinges split; cloth with wear to spine extremities. Joints split, cloth holding firm.