Poems, in Two Volumes, by William Wordsworth, Author of The Lyrical Ballads.

WORDSWORTH William (1807.)

£8500.00  [First Edition]


First Edition. Two volumes. 12mo. Vol 1: [8], 158, [2, errata]; Vol 2: [8], 170pp., with the half-titles in both volumes. Some very light foxing in places, a couple of spots and a few pencil annotations in both volumes. Contemporary straight-grained green morocco, covers with a gilt floral arcading border, spines divided into six panels and lettered and tooled in gilt, sky blue endpapers, green ribbon markers, gilt edges, small contemporary printed bookseller's label on the front pastedown of the first volume: "Sold by | Gray & Son | Booksellers & Stationers | 62 Piccadilly | opposite St James's Street | & 8, Glasshouse St" (very slightly rubbed at the head and foot of spine but otherwise very fine).

London: [by Wood & Innes] for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme,

Healey, The Cornell Wordsworth Collection, no. 19. With the cancels D11-12 in Vol. 1 and B2 in Vol. 2. First state of F1 in Vol 2 with misspelling “Thy fnuction” in the penultimate line on the verso of the leaf.


An exquisite copy in jewel-like bindings of Wordsworth’s second collection of poems written after Lyrical Ballads: including some of his best-known compositions: ‘She was a Phantom of delight’, ’To a Sky-Lark’, ’Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1803’, ’I wandered lonely as a Cloud’ [‘Daffodils’], ’I travell’d among unknown Men’ and the final ‘Ode’ [later titled ‘Ode. Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.’]


While the 1807 Poems contains some of the most popular poems in English Literature, the critical reception, led by Francis Jeffrey, editor of The Edinburgh Review (December 1807), was brutal:


 “... If the printing of such trash as this [‘Alice Fell’, Vol. I, p. 84] be not felt as an insult on the public taste, we are afraid it cannot be insulted. ...” - The Edinburgh Review, October, 1807, p. 214-31. 


"Brought together for publication in 1807 as Poems, in Two Volumes, this varied, original collection ought to have been a triumph. It was a disaster. The sonnets and the odes affronted no aesthetic codes, but the lyrics certainly did. In the 1802 preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth had declared that the ‘objects of the Poet’s thoughts are every where’, and these poems explored that conviction in a manner which even Coleridge thought exhibited a ‘daring Humbleness of Language & Versification’ and a startling ‘adherence to matter of fact, even to prolixity’ (Collected Letters, ed. Griggs, 2.830). They were too daring by far for Francis Jeffrey. His merciless anatomy of the volumes in the Edinburgh Review for December 1807 was only the most thoroughgoing of the many onslaughts which, while generally conceding merit to the sonnets, castigated the bulk of the lyrics as puerile trash.” (Stephen Gill, ODNB).


Provenance: An unidentified early reader has added occasional facetious single lines to occasional poems in neat pencil, usually forming a new couplet at the end of a verse, e.g., at the end of verse 1 of “To the Daisy” [Vol. I, p. 1] he has completed Wordsworth’s line “Of thee, sweet Daisy!” with his own “To make me easy”. He/she has also added a comment “Bad” at the end of final line of ‘Daffodils’ and of the second and third ‘Daisy’ poems (Vol. II, p. 93]: “The rest were the dregs thereof!!!” To the opening two lines of verse 2 of “Ode” [Vol. II, p. 147 – after 1815 titled “Ode: Intimations of Mortality”] to Wordsworth’s “The Rainbow comes and goes, | And lovely is the Rose,” he/she has added: “The wind it often blows, | some people blow their nose |In winter too it snows.”


Later Provenance: Bernard Quaritch, with pencil collation note at the end. Pierre Bergé (1930-2017), Paris fashion entrepeneur, partner of Yves Saint Laurent, and auctioneer; from his private collection with his ex-libris label on the blank verso of each flyleaf; sale, Paris, 8/11/2016, lot 220. 

Stock Code: 224652

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