“ALL I ASK IS A TALL SHIP AND A STAR TO STEER HER BY”: FIRST EDITION OF MASEFIELD’S SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, 1902
MASEFIELD, John. Salt-Water Ballads. London: Grant Richards, 1902. Octavo, original blue cloth, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in custom cloth chemise and slipcase. $400.
First edition, first issue, of this book of maritime poetry, one of only 500 copies.
This book, Masefield's first, focuses on the lure of the sea and the wonder of the vessels that sail it, subjects that greatly delighted the poet; he had worked on a ship from age 13. It brought Masefield instant recognition. He immediately followed it with a number of other books of verse, and in 1930 would be named poet laureate. The "pungent, rhythmical poems of the sea" in these pages, however, especially "Sea-Fever" and "Cargoes," remain "his best-known works" (Hamilton, 344-45). First issue, with Grant Richards imprint on title page and "I must down to the seas again" (omitting the word "go") on page 59. Morocco bookplate in chemise. Bookplate of book collector Philo Calhoun in chemise. Calhoun, a lawyer and author, was known, in particular, for his enduring interest in A Christmas Carol and his collection of first editions.
Interior fine, slight rubbing to cloth, and mild toning to spine. A handsome, near-fine copy.