"WITH LOVE AND THANKS FOR 'THE MUSICIANS'": FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, OF ALL MY PRETTY ONES, INSCRIBED OF THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION BY ANNE SEXTON TO HER FRIEND AND FREQUENT ARTISTIC COLLABORATOR, BARBARA SWAN
SEXTON, Anne. All My Pretty Ones. Boston and Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin and The Riverside Press, 1962. Slim octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket. $2900.
First edition, presentation copy, of Sexton's second collection of autobiographical poetry, inscribed in the year of publication to illustrator Barbara Swan, whose lithograph, "The Musicians," inspired the 1964 poem, "To Lose the Earth": "For Barbara, with love and thanks for "The Musicians"—Anne. Dec-1962."
A collection "of torment and reflection transposed into personal poetry reveals power and potential substance… Many of the poems explore the pain of others dying—here mostly parental portraits—and all the familiar responses, anger, indifference and celebration, appear in varying dosage. There is painful realism as well ('The Operation') and eulogies on the most vivid of Miss Sexton's subjects—woman, as mother, lover, and child… [B]olstered by strong words, and imploring emotion, the poems aim to realize their author's conception: 'This is what poems are:/ with mercy/ for the greedy/ they are the tongue's wrangle/ the world's pottage, the rat's star' (Kirkus Review). This presentation copy is inscribed to Barbara Swan, a well-known American lithographer, painter, and illustrator. Swan, a member of the Boston Expressionist school during her early career, developed important collaborative relationships with several creative women through a grant at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. Anne Sexton was one of those women. Swan provided pen-and-ink illustrations for several of Sexton's books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Live or Die. In an essay on Sexton that Swan wrote (and that was later published in Anne Sexton: Telling the Tale (1988)), Swan recalled the impact of her lithograph, "The Musicians" on Sexton. The lithograph inspired Sexton's poem, "To Lose the Earth," published in 1964. Sexton and Swan encountered many of the same criticisms throughout their career: namely, that their work was overly feminine, emotional, and delicate. Their collaboration resulted in an enduring friendship and many notable contributions to poetry, illustration, and book arts in general.
Book about fine. Dust jacket extremely good, with a bit of wear mainly to extremities. A desirable inscribed copy with an interesting association.