London: Taylor and Hessey, 1818. Octavo, measuring 8.5 x 5.5 inches: ix, , 207, . Late nineteenth-century full polished chestnut morocco, boards elaborately bordered and decorated in gilt with interlacing strapwork against a stippled ground, gilt-ruled raised bands, spine compartments lettered and decorated in gilt, full chestnut and green morocco dentelles elaborately gilt-tooled and stamp-signed “Zaehnsdorf 1895,” green floral silk endpapers, top edge gilt. Bound without publisher’s advertisements. Tiny scuffs to spine ends, ghost of label to verso of front free endpaper, penciled bookseller notes. Housed in custom chemise and slipcase.
First edition, second issue, of John Keats’s experimental long poem, a landmark of English literature: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: / Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness.” Based on the Greek myth of the shepherd Endymion, the poem represents Keats at a moment of transition: “The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment.” While Keats would turn away from the rambling, improvisatory quality of Endymion in his more focused later work, the experience of writing the poem was an important stage in his development. Second issue, with imprint reading “T. Miller, Printer, Noble Street, Cheapside,” and the expanded five-line errata leaf. MacGillivray A2. A fine copy, in a spectacular binding by Zaehnsdorf.