Wednesday, September 26, 2007


More decorated cloth covers

Two more, both books of poems. The first, The Crescent Moon: Child-Poems by Rabindranath Tagore (Macmillan 1915), has the designer's initials in a tiny cartouche in the lower left corner, T.S.M., Thomas Sturge Moore:

The second, The Blue Poetry Book edited by Andrew Lang (Longmans 1891), takes its cover from a full-page engraving in the book by artist/illustrator H.J. Ford:

In the former, I love the repeating motif of the moon/hammock, and the elegant lines of the design; in the latter, I love the big lions and cheetah lolling at Orpheus's feet as he plays his lyre to tame them. The Lang book is a library discard, so it's in rough shape - the old library markings are visible on the spine - but it's still a mighty charming object. And in this case it actually makes me happy that the book is falling apart, because that means it was taken home and read. By children, I hope, who found in this book poems by Blake, Poe, Wordsworth, Burns, Keats - even though there are some poems here that I consider heavy going.

I was flipping through the Tagore book just now and I notice that he dedicated the book to Thomas Sturge Moore. Moore was a poet and an artist, and is famous for his designs of some of Yeats's book covers. I used to have a very nice copy of The Tower, but now I don't know where it is. Shocking, I know. Back to the books...

For tomorrow:

Melville's death on September 28, 1891, in New York, was noted with only one obituary notice. Sad.(wish I could find a facsimile copy) A genius before his time.

"It is not down in any map; true places never are." ~H. Meliville

Oh, these are beautiful! I often buy old, disintegrating books I see at library rack sales or yard sales, just for the gorgeous old cloth covers. I know they aren't valuable, but the covers are often so elegant...just can't bear to let them get thrown away or pulped or whatever it is happens to leftover garage sale books.

Maybe I should scan the covers and upload them somewhere...following your lead.
A bit of Melville, one of his shortest poems, and I can't read it without thinking of his own disappointments in life:

"A Tuft of Kelp"

All dripping in tangles green
Cast up by a lonely sea,
If purer for that, O Weed,
Bitterer, too, are ye?
Nancy - thanks for your comment, and I'll be watching to see if you add your own covers... I've always wanted to put my favorite covers into shadowboxes, and put them up on the walls of the bookshop. It's on my to-do list.
These books are stunning, they're real treasures!
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