“HIS RHYTHMIC SONG RINGS FOREVER IN THE AMERICAN AIR”: LEAVES OF GRASS, 1876 AUTHOR’S EDITION SIGNED BY WHITMAN, WITH INITIALED POSTCARD TIPPED IN
WHITMAN, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Author's Edition, With Portraits from Life. Camden, New Jersey: [no publisher], 1876. Octavo, early 20th-century full green morocco rebacked with spine laid down, raised bands, watered silk endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
“Author’s Edition,” one of 600 copies signed in ink on the title page by Walt Whitman, with two portraits of America’s “good gray poet,” handsomely bound in full morocco. With an autograph postcard initialed by Whitman tipped in.
"Practically everything that can be said about the significance of [Leaves of Grass] has been said by its author… He was and is the poet and prophet of democracy, and the intoxication of his immense affirmative, the fervor of his 'barbaric yawp,' are so powerful that the echo of his… rhythmic song rings forever in the American air" (Grolier American 100 67). The autograph postcard, addressed by Whitman to John Swinton of New York City, is dated Camden, New Jersey, Sept. 11, and reads, "I send you today, same address as this card, 3 copies Leaves, 2 do. Two Riv. & 3 Memoranda - by Adam's Express, prepaid. Please notify me soon as they reach you safely. WW." Recipient John Swinton was a good friend and booster of Whitman, and the Editor of the New York Times. In 1876—the year Whitman published this edition of Leaves of Grass, and also a year when the poet found himself in dire financial straits—Swinton was one of several friends who promoted Whitman's books, urging his friends, colleagues and readers to subscribe for copies. Though the year is not given on the postcard, it is entirely possible that the volumes referenced by Whitman in this card were bought by Swinton or by colleagues at the Times through Swinton. Complete with two portraits: Samuel Hollyer's stipple-engraving of Whitman, inserted after page 28, and W.J. Linton's wood-engraving from G.C. Potter's photograph of Whitman, inserted after page 284. With advertisement leaf at rear. Myerson A2.5.c2. BAL 21412. Wells & Goldsmith, 20-21.
Interior generally clean, Whitman's signature boldspine mellowed to brown. A handsomely bound signed copy, with autograph postcard tipped in.