THOMAS, Dylan Marlais (1914-1953). Four autograph poems and one autograph prose manuscript, n.p., n.d. (1936-1940), two poems and the prose manuscript written on loose leaves, and two poems written on the blank leaves of a sample copy of the projected edition of Ezra POUND's The Works of Guido Cavalcanti (London: The Aquila Press, 1929), original tan crushed morocco trial binding, boards with blind-stamped borders composed of 4 foliate blocks enclosed by foliate rolls, panel of upper board lettered in blind 'THE · , WORKS· , OF , GUIDO CAVALCANTI', the spine lettered 'THE · WORKS · OF · GUIDO · CAVALCANTI', pigskin endleaves [cf. Gallup Pound (1983) B27, recording sample copies in similar bindings in his own and Omar Pound's collections]. [With:]
Vernon Phillips WATKINS (1906-1967). Two typed poems (one signed and dated November 1938-1939).
Provenance: Winifred Henderson (bookplate).
Thomas' poems include: 'Papers and sticks and shovel and match', 18 lines of verse written on ½ page, 4°; 'Once below a time', 51 lines on 1½ pages, 4°; 'Then was my neophyte', 48 lines, one page, 285 x 210 mm; and 'We lying by Seasand', 24 lines, written in blue ink, ½ page, 285 x 210mm; the prose manuscript is of the three last paragraphs of a short story, 28 lines on light blue paper, one page, 4° (slightly discoloured).
POEMS WRITTEN IN DYLAN THOMAS'S WILD YOUTH AND PUBLISHED BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 1936 AND JANUARY 1940. 'We lying by Seasand, watching yellow And the grave sea, mock who deride Who follow the red rivers, hollow Alcove of words out of cicada shade ...' was originally composed in 1933 (in the 'Buff Notebook'), and published in the present revised version in Poetry, Chicago XLIX, January 1937. 'Then was my neophyte Child in white blood bent on its knees Under the bell of rocks...' was probably written while staying with Winifred Henderson in July 1936 (published in Twenty-Five Poems, September 1936). The remaining poems (on leaves numbered at the head, 'Four' and 'Five'), were published separately in 1939 and 1940.
The prose passage is the ending of One Warm Saturday, written in July 1938 and the last story in Portrait of the Artist as as Young Dog (1940), evoking the place to which the subject has briefly returned: 'The light of the one weak lamp in a rusty circle fell across the brickheaps and the broken wood and the dust that had been houses once where the small and hardly known and never to be forgotten people of the dirty town had lived and loved and died and, always, lost'.
The provenance of the volume is interesting. Ezra Pound's edition of Cavalcanti's verse was to have been published by the Aquila Press in London, in an edition of 500 copies, to be supervised by John Sibthorp. Several sample copies comprising the first few pages and filled out with blank leaves were produced and bound but, when the press went bankrupt, Pound transferred the edition to Genoa where it appeared later in a different form. Sibthorp, before his marriage in 1932, was one of the lovers of Winifred Henderson, well known in literary and artistic circles, and presumably gave the present volume to her. She subsequently had an affair with Dylan Thomas and probably gave it to him when he stayed with her in Cornwall in 1936. The volume and the separate manuscript verses were later given to a member of his circle of friends at Laugharne from whom they have descended to the present owner. (7)