FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, OF MAY-DAY AND OTHER PIECES, 1867, INSCRIBED BY EMERSON IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION TO HIS CLOSE FRIEND AND LONGTIME ADVISER, ABEL ADAMS
EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. May-Day and Other Pieces. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco, raised bands. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,000.
First edition, presentation copy, of Emerson's second volume of poems, inscribed in the year of publication to his close friend and trusted adviser: "Abel Adams from R.W. Emerson. 1 May, 1867."
May-Day, Emerson's second volume of poetry, followed his highly successful Poems (1946). "The two volumes established his reputation as a major American poet" (Britannica). "Emerson had always thought verse to be the most perfect mode of utterance, and he had always referred to himself as a poet. Now he offered evidence whereby he might be judged. The judgement has taken some time to become mature, but it is no longer to be doubted that in a few of his pieces he reached a mark which only Whitman, Poe, and Emily Dickinson reached in America during the 19th century… It is an intellectual poetry that he writes… It is the work of a passionate intellect saturated in Wordsworth, Shakespeare, and the lyric masters of the 17th century" (ANB). Myerson A.28.1.a (listing this as the "first American edition" with no editions preceding and the British edition following). BAL 5250. This copy is inscribed by Emerson to Abel Adams, one of Emerson's closest friends. "At the time of his first marriage and during the few years of his ministry in Boston, Mr. Emerson and his young wife found a home in Chardon Street with his parishioner, Mr. Abel Adams, a merchant of integrity and success. All through his life Mr. Adams was a valued and helpful friend and adviser" (Rusk, The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 93, note 1). Not only was Adams Emerson's financial adviser for many years, but when he steered Emerson towards a bad investment in railroad stock, he assumed the college expenses of Emerson's son. He also included the Emerson family in his will. After Adams' death, Emerson wrote that Adams was: "[o]ne of the best of my friends, whose hospitable house was always open to me by day or night for so many years… I had given him, first and last, a good deal of trouble, in his counsels & anxieties about my different pieces of property which he looked after… We cannot love him better than we did, but it is certain that in this house, when the ear hearth of him then it shall bless him." Ex-libris Faulkner Hospital.
Shallow dampstain to marginal edge of text block, expert restoration to joints, spine ends and extremities of binding. A very good copy.