“HE HAD, BESIDE HIS NORMAL HEAD, A SECOND HEAD, GROWN FROM HIS KNEE”: MORGENSTERN’S “GALLOWS SONGS,” INSCRIBED BY ILLUSTRATOR H.A. REY
(REY, H.A.) MORGENSTERN, Christian. The Daynight Lamp and Other Poems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973. Slim octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. $1800.
First edition of this collection of Morgenstern’s “Gallows Songs,” wonderfully illustrated with 20 lithographs by celebrated artist H.A. Rey and warmly inscribed by him, “To my dear neighbor Tina Smith, affectionately, Hans* (*the H in H.A. REY), Waterville Valley, N.H., 7-31-1974,” with a small original drawing of a morning star.
“The common image of Morgenstern is as a writer of nonsense poetry, not unlike Edward Lear’s… displaying a genuine humor, yet often touching the grotesque or burlesque to reveal a sharp edge of satire” (Garland, 632). Originally published in Germany between 1905 and 1928, his poems appeared again in the 1932 anthology Alle Galgenlieder (“All the Gallows Songs”). In the 1920s, H.A. Rey (today best known for the Curious George books) published a deluxe limited edition of lithographs illustrating selected Galgenlieder-his earliest work in book form. After Max Knight of the University of California Press translated and published Morgenstern’s poetry in 1963, Rey revived his lithographs, and the two men created this volume, which includes some poems from Knight’s 1963 edition and others appearing in English for the first time. Beside his inscription Rey has drawn a small, shining star, captioned “MORNING STAR” (the literal translation of Morgenstern’s name).
Several tiny holes to corners of boards. Price-clipped dust jacket with very minor chipping and a few small closed tears. A lovely copy.