Boston: Laurens Maynard, MDCCCXCVII . First Edition. Cloth. First American Issue of the only edition, with spine imprint Maynard and title page "Published by Laurens Maynard" (later Small, Maynard). Edited, with an introduction, by Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D., one of Whitman's literary executors. Small 8vo: viii,173pp, with two inserted leaves of Japan paper, one (frontispiece) with drawing by H. D. Young of Whitman and Peter Doyle on verso before title page, the other a photograph of a letter on recto after p. 112. Publisher's lime T-like cloth (bold ribbed), cover blind stamped with single rule frame, spine lettered in gilt. Pages marginally toned, frontispiece and facsimile letter browned, else an excellent example. BAL 21446. Myerson A14.I.b1. Fine-. Item #BB1301
In the third edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1860, Whitman's "Calamus" poems, a cluster devoted to male-male affection, make their first appearance (the edition on offer here is the first, 37 years later, in which the poems stand alone). The Calamus poems offer a vision of men loving men to counter the Civil War horror of fratricide that threatened the nation at a pivotal moment in its history. Their genesis is found in an unpublished manuscript sequence of twelve poems entitled "Live Oak With Moss," written in or before the spring of 1859. The poems seem to recount the story of a relationship between the speaker and a male lover. In the third edition of Leaves, Whitman included the twelve "Live Oak" poems along with others to form a sequence of 45 untitled poems that celebrate many aspects of "comradeship" or "adhesive love," Whitman's term, borrowed from phrenology, to describe male same-sex attraction in its political, spiritual, metaphysical, and personal phases—in Whitman's view, the backbone of future nations, the root of religious sentiments, the solution to the big questions of life, and a source of personal anguish and joy. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.