"THE HARSH RELENTLESS HAND OF HATE"
GARDNER, Benjamin Franklin. Black. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1933. Small octavo (5-1/2 by 7-3/4 inches), original black cloth. $200.
First edition of Gardner's critically praised first and only book of poetry—"the secret of these rhythmic liberties is… infectious" (New York Times), in original cloth.
Gardner, the son of enslaved parents, traveled widely across America and worked as a Pullman porter while crafting the 60 poems in Black. In poems such as "Courage," he attacks the brutality of racism, and in the couplets of "Plea," he challenges the "cruel bars of segregation." In "Ebony Beauty," Gardner writes of African American women whose beauty recalls "queens that ruled along the Nile," and in "Lord, I'm Coming," evokes the inspiration of African American spirituals. On publication of Black in 1933, the New York Times praised Gardner for his "sureness of ear… The secret of these rhythmic liberties is… infectious." One of America's first western black poets, along with William Lightfoot Visscher and John Mason Brewer, Franklin worked as a porter on the Union Pacific at the time of publication, travelling between his home in Ogden, Utah and Cheyenne, Wyoming (Literary History of the American West, 199n). Without scarce dust jacket. Blockson 4873. Bookplate.
Mild rubbing to spine lettering. A handsome about-fine copy.