"DRAWN BY A THREAD OF TIME-SUNK MEMORY": ROBERT GRAVES' THE PIER-GLASS, 1921 FIRST EDITION
GRAVES, Robert. The Pier-Glass. London: Martin Secker, (1921). Small octavo, original patterned boards, printed paper spine label, uncut and partially unopened, original dust jacket. $1000.
First edition of this collection of poems, with frontispiece portrait of Graves after a painting by his brother-in-law Ben Nicholson, a partially unopened copy in scarce original dust jacket.
"Graves' hopes for popular success as a poet faded after the poor reception given in 1920 to Country Sentiment… while in 1921 Nancy's efforts to earn money by running a shop on Boar's Hill also ended in failure. In addition, between 1919 and 1924 Nancy gave birth to four children in under five years; while Graves (now an atheist like his wife) suffered from recurring bouts of shell-shock" (ODNB). "Even Country Sentiment was riddled with darker thoughts than Graves was willing to acknowledge. His next book of poems, The Pier-Glass (1921), gives a clearer glimpse of the haunted mind with which Nancy was in daily contact. Most disturbing of all must have been her husband's growing belief that his torment was the source of his best work. In 'The Gnat,' a poem which compares his mental state, horrifyingly, to the sensation of a metal-clawed insect boring into a man's brain, the cure is shown to kill the imagination… He was tortured by his thoughts but he feared the consequences of being cured" (Seymour, Robert Graves: Life on the Edge, 78). Higginson A6.
Book fine, dust jacket with toned spine, minor dust-soiling, near-fine.