Sitwell, Edith; [Laughlin, James]
The Canticle of the Rose: Poems 1917-1949
New York: Vanguard Press, 1949. Octavo, original black cloth boards stamped in gilt and pink, bright unclipped original dustjacket with two barely perceptible scratches to front panel.
First American edition of this collection of Sitwell's poetry, inscribed: “To James and Margaret Laughlin with all best wishes from Edith Sitwell." One of the great English eccentrics, Sitwell produced intricately patterned and embroidered lyrics that she describes, in the introduction to this volume, as “hymns of praise to the glory of Life." “Another wind's small drum through thin leaves taps, / And Venus' children, wearing their Scotch caps / Or a small toque Hongroise that is round-brimmed, / And with a wing from Venus' pigeons trimmed, / Run now with hoops and dolls they call 'cher coeur,' / Chase Cupid in his jacket artilleur, / Play on the cliffs where like the goats' thick locks / The coarse grass grows, and clamber on the rocks." The recipient of this copy, pioneering modernist publisher James Laughlin, founded New Directions in 1936. Laughlin published pieces by and about Sitwell over the years, and credited her with a major discovery: “She told me of an astounding young poet whom I would find in a certain pub near Red Lion Square. It was Dylan Thomas" (Laughlin 266). A near-fine copy, with excellent provenance.