"I HERE WITH PEN AND INK APPEND MY NAME": SCARCE EDITION OF LEAVES OF GRASS, SIGNED BY WHITMAN, WITH ORIGINAL BUTTERFLY PHOTOGRAPH—PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY INSCRIBED WITH A QUOTATION BY ONE OF WHITMAN'S LITERARY EXECUTORS, RICHARD MAURICE BUCKE
WHITMAN, Walt. Leaves of Grass with Sands at Seventy & a Backward Glance o'er Travel'd Roads. May 31, 1889… Portraits from Life. Autograph. Special Ed'n. [Camden, New Jersey, 1889]. Octavo, original full gilt-stamped limp black morocco, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,000.
One of only 300 copies of Leaves of Grass printed in commemoration of Whitman's 70th birthday, boldly signed by Whitman on the title page, with six portraits of Whitman, including the famous original mounted frontispiece photograph with a butterfly resting on his finger. This copy additionally inscribed by one of Whitman's literary executors, Richard Maurice Bucke, author of the first biography of Whitman.
Whitman's explanatory note is printed on the title page: "Today, after finishing my 70th year, the fancy comes for celebrating it by a special complete, final utterance, in one handy volume of L. of G. with their Annex, and Backward Glance-and for stamping and sprinkling all with portraits and facial photos, such as they actually were, taken from life, different stages. Doubtless, anyhow, the volume is more a Person than a book. And for testimony to all (and good measure) I here with pen and ink append my name."
This copy inscribed by Whitman's friend and literary executor, Richard Maurice Bucke, on the front free endpaper: "J.N. Greenshields from his friend R.M. Bucke. 'I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is enough,/ To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,/ […] I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.' Sep. 83. Asylum, London, Ont. 6 Nov. '95." The quotation is three lines from Whitman's poem "I Sing the Body Electric," and the lines are underlined in red ink where they appear in the text, on page 83. Recipient Greenshields was a prominent Montreal lawyer and financier. Bucke was born in England an raised in Canada, where he studied medicine and served as superintendent of the London, Ontario Asylum for the Insane from 1877 until his death in 1902. He wrote two enthusiastic studies of Whitman: Walt Whitman: A Contemporaneous Study (1883) was the first biography of Whitman ever written; he also wrote Walt Whitman: Man and Poet (1897). Bucke also helped edit Whitman's Complete Writings (1902). Another work by Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness (1901) reflects much of Whitman's mysticism. The 1990 film Beautiful Dreamers, starring Rip Torn as Whitman and Colm Feore as Bucke, depicts the relationship between these two men and the profound influence of Whitman on Bucke, and by extension on the patients in his asylum. Myerson A2.7.n. Wells and Goldsmith, 32-33.
Interior clean, faint crease to first few leaves, including butterfly portrait. Text block professionally recased in original binding, with expert restoration to spine ends and corners. An extremely good signed copy, with a notable Whitman association.