Blue Juniata. Poems

New York: Cape & Smith, 1929. First edition. Original blue cloth; spine dull, slight soiling to sides. Dust jacket worn and repaired. Cloth slipcase. First edition of the author’s first regularly published book. Presentation copy to Hart Crane, inscribed by Cowley on the front free endpaper: “To Hart | who got this volume | published | if it’s bad, on your | shoulders be the sin | Malcolm.” With an additional, very long inscription (covering the half-title and its verso) written by Cowley at a later date, explaining how the book got published: “This copy of Blue Juniata has a history. Hart Crane kept insisting that I publish a book of poems. I had the poems in manuscript, but didn’t see them as a book. In 1928 Hart took away the manuscript, rearranged it, and retyped much of it (though without making changes in the text). Then he submitted it to what he called a ‘secret arbiter,’ who I found was Gorham Munson, then working for the George H. Doran Company, if I’m not mistaken. Anyhow Doran accepted the manuscript, and that stirred me to action. Always an obstinate Pennsylvania Dutchman [Juniata is a river in west-central Pennsylvania falling into the Susquehanna], I took the ms., gave it another arrangement (though many of Hart’s suggestions were good ones, and I followed a few of them), revised most of the poems, and carried the book to another friend in the publishing world, Harrison Smith, who had just founded the new house of Cape & Smith [publisher of Faulkner, et al]. Without the impetus that Hart provided, I mightn’t have published it for years. All this explains the dedication on the flyleaf. This was Hart’s copy, which he carried with him to Mexico in 1931, and still had with him on SS Orizaba till he jumped overboard in April l932. Peggy Baird Cowley, my divorced wife, was with him on the Orizaba. She rescued Blue Juniata from his belongings and gave the copy back to me. Malcolm Cowley.” Five years later Cowley would publish “Exile’s Return,” his now classic account of the American expatriate writers of the Twenties. Provenance: Jonathan Goodwin (sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Part I, 29 March 1977, lot 50); Sotheby’s New York, 13 April, 2004. Item #32585

Price: $25,000.00

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