King Jasper. WITH: Autograph letter signed

Robert FROST   |   Edwin Arlington ROBINSON

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(FROST, Robert) ROBINSON, Edwin Arlington. King Jasper. A Poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson. WITH: FROST, Robert. Autograph letter signed. New York: Macmillan, 1935. Octavo, original half black cloth, green cloth covers, original glassine, original slipcase with printed paper label.

Limited first edition of Arlington’s final narrative poem, number 64 of only 250 copies, with an Introduction by Robert Frost. This copy signed by Frost on the final page of his Introduction, and further inscribed by him, “For my friend James Patrick J. Murphy, Coconut Grove Florida, February 12, 1936.” Accompanied as well by an autograph letter signed by Frost to Murphy, inviting him to send his copy of this book to Frost for him to sign: “I shall be glad to write my name in it for you.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Edwin Robinson was "the most highly regarded and widely read poet of his generation" (Hamilton, 456). "The first major American poet of the 20th century, [he was] unique in that he devoted his life to poetry and willingly paid the price in poverty" (ANB). This volume is also prized for Frost's perceptive and elegiac Introduction, in which he praises Robinson and mourns his passing, as Robinson died mere hours after he finished revising the galley proofs of this work. "Robinson has gone to his place in American literature and left his human place among us vacant." This essay marks Frost's beginning in literary criticism. In addition to being a poignant tribute to Robinson, it is also a distancing of Frost's own poetry from the Modernist experiments in imagism and the politically influenced experiments in propaganda.

The laid-in autograph letter signed by Frost is dated February 1, 1936 (the accompanying envelope is postmarked February 3) just a few days before the February 12 inscription in the book. Following the address and date the letter reads: "Dear Mr. Murphy: If you hurry and send your King Jasper to me it should easily reach me at the above address before I leave for Cambridge Mass on February 15th. I shall be glad to write my name in it for you. And here enclosed is an item of mine you may care to have. Any help I can give you in collecting please let me know. Sincerely yours, Robert Frost." The envelope, addressed to Murphy in Frost's hand, is also present. In addition, a typed letter (not signed) from Frost to Murphy from 1960 is included, in which an 86-year-old Frost apologizes to Murphy for not being able to see him during a recent visit to Bryn Mawr. He writes, "I have always wondered about you and your interest in my books. I believe I have here in Brewster Street some of your collection I have yet to put my hand to. I must tend to it when I get back from my next excursion. Would it be too much to ask you to sort of catalogue what you already have? I try to take care of my collectors sooner or later."

Though they never met, Frost and recipient James P.J. Murphy, an aspiring poet and avid collector, corresponded for nearly a quarter of a century. "Murphy was a shy man with a passion for literature and fine printing. He found both in Frost's books. The poet autographed Murphy's copies of his works—often after considerable delay—and sent him his special Christmas cards" (Burch, "Three Unpublished Letters of Robert Frost to James P.J. Murphy," in ANQ, 13:2, 35-40). Unpublished letters between the two—such as the two present letters, one signed—show Frost giving the young poet sound advice on getting his poems published, and promising to get around to autographing copies of his works that Murphy had sent to him for that purpose.

Fine condition.

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