London: David Bogue, 1881. Octavo, early twentieth-century full red crushed morocco gilt, boards gilt-ruled with gilt cornerpieces and floral medallions inlaid with green morocco, raised bands, spine compartments lettered and decorated in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt dentelles, top edge gilt, other edges uncut, red silk ribbon marker. Gilt-embossed rectangular panel of publisher's first binding, measuring 2 by 2.5 inches, affixed to blank flyleaf.
First edition of Oscar Wilde's first book of poems, one of 250 copies. By his mid-twenties, Wilde had enjoyed considerable success as a poet: “Ravenna" won Oxford's Newdigate Prize in 1878, and dozens of Wilde's poems had appeared in Irish, English and American periodicals. This first edition of his collected poems, handsomely printed on handmade paper, was published at Wilde's own expense. Highlights include “Requiescat" (an elegy for his sister Isola, who died when they were children), “The Grave of Keats," and “Her Voice": “Sweet, there is nothing left to say / But this, that love is never lost, / Keen winter stabs the breasts of May / Whose crimson roses burst his frost, / Ships tempest-tossed / Will find a harbour in some bay, / And so we may." Wilde was disappointed in the reception of his first book, and turned from poetry to the more profitable genres of fiction and drama, but he always considered himself a poet before all, and declared that he would be remembered as “the infamous St Oscar of Oxford, Poet and Martyr" (Letters, 720). First printing, with first issue title page, misprint “may" for “maid' on page 136, and a panel of publisher's first binding, featuring a gilt plum blossom pattern designed by Wilde, affixed to rear flyleaf. A fine copy of a major literary debut, splendidly bound by Root & Son.