THE ALBUM AMICORUM POETICORUM OR THE 'PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY' OF ERIC WALTER WHITE CBE (1905- 1985), first Literature Director of the Arts Council, music critic and writer, and poet, containing 60 autograph poems by many of the leading poets of the time, some with accompanying letters from them loosely interleaved, a few of the poems composed impromptu specifically for White, inscribed and signed by him as a title-page 'A Personal Anthology Eric Walter White', loose list of contents by White, c. 80 pages, plus loose insertions, deckle edges, half red morocco, quarto (including a second volume containing two typed poems by Ken [Smith?], and autograph poems by Brian Patten (2), Harry Fainlight and a prose poem by J. Jeffray Jones, and a photograph of Eric White with Ted Hughes and his bull [Sexton]), compiled 1962-1975
ELIOT, T.S.: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Usk', signed ('T.S. Eliot'), 8 lines, 1 page, quarto, with an accompanying letter from his secretary M.I. Drage returning the book, dated 4 August 1964
Do not suddenly break the branch or Hope to find
The White Hart behind the white wall. Glance aside, not for lance, do not spell Old enchantments. Let them sleep...
LARKIN, PHILIP: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Modesties', signed ('Philip'), 12 lines in three four-line stanzas, with an accompanying autograph letter signed ('Philip'), asking if White intended to sell the album to Texas and commenting 'The poem may go some way towards explaining my feeling that, despite your promise of a good time I would sooner not appear at Stratford', 2 pages, octavo, 9 January 1963; with a note by White that 'The Larkin poem was written on 13 May 1949'
Words as plain as hen-birds wings Do not lie,
Do not over-broider things -
Are too shy...
AUDEN, W.H.: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'On the Circuit', signed ('W.H. Auden'), 64 lines in sixteen four-line stanzas, 2 pages, quarto, note by White dating the entry 12 May 1964
Among pelagian travellers,
Lost on their lewd conceited way I Massachusetts, Michigan, Miami or L.A....
HUGHES, TED: Autograph manuscript of his well-known poem 'Full Moon and Little Frieda', signed ('Ted Hughes'), 12 lines, 1 page, quarto, not dated
A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket
And you listening...
"Moon!" you cry suddenly, "Moon! Moon!" The moon has stepped back, like an artist gazing
amazed at a work That points at him amazed.
Andrew Motion described the effect of this poem on him (one of his favourites of Ted's) in his essay in The Epic Poise: A Celebration of Ted Hughes, 1999: '...it's the intimacy of the thing I especially love, I also admire the big reach it manages so modestly...by stepping back "like an artist". Suddenly the poem goes beyond its own geography...it makes us think about the relationship between art and artist and audience...'
HEANEY, SEAMUS: Autograph manuscript of his autobiographical poem 'Personal Helicon', signed and dated ('20th March 1969. Seamus Heaney'), 20 lines in five four-line stanzas, 1 page, quarto, 20 March 1969
As a child, they could not keep me from wells And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top. I savoured the rich crash when a bucket Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it...
LOWELL, ROBERT: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Inauguration Day January 1963', signed ('Robert Lowell'), 14 lines, 1 page, quarto, dated 19 July 1963
The snow had buried Stuyvesant
The subways drummed the vaults, I heard the El's green girders charge on Third, Manhattan's truss of adamant,
that groaned in ermine, slummed on want...
RAINE, KATHLEEN: Autograph manuscript of her poem beginning 'See, the clear sky is threaded with a thousand rays...', signed ('Kathleen Raine'), 24 lines, in stanzas of varying length, 1 page, quarto, not dated
See, the clear sky is threaded with a thousand rays, The bird's unseen but certain ways
That draw the swallows and the homing dove
As eyebeams overleap distances between stars...
THOMAS, R.S: Autograph manuscript of his poem beginning 'From my Father my strong heart...', signed ('R.S. Thomas'), 8 lines, 1 page, octavo, not dated
From my father my strong heart. My weak stomach
From my Mother the fear
From my sad country the shame...
BETJEMAN, JOHN: Autograph manuscript of an impromptu poem 'Lines written in about 1926-27 A.D.', 11 lines with a footnote, and an autograph letter signed ('John'), asking forgiveness for his 'triviality', 1 page, quarto, 43 Cloth Fair, 18 January 1968
Eric Walter White Walter Thorsby-Pelham The Montpelier Rotunda Receives them under
Its Tuscan order...
SPENDER, STEPHEN: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Subject: Object: Sentence', signed ('Stephen Spender'), 20 lines in five four-line stanzas, 1 page, quarto, with a covering letter dated 11 October 1963
A subject thought, because he had a verb With several objects, that he ruled a sentence. Had not Grammar willed to him substantives Which he came into, as his just inheritance?...
GUNN, THOM: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'To His Cynical Mistress', signed ('Thom Gunn'), 12 lines in two six-line stanzas, beginning 'And love is then no more than a compromise?...', 1 page, quarto, London, 1970
MURPHY, RICHARD: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Armada Anchor (off the coast of Ireland)', signed from Cleggan ('Richard Murphy'), 50 lines in five ten-line stanzas, beginning: 'During a night haul / Her engine pulsing / She was held fast / On the still sea...', 3 pages, quarto, not dated
ABSE, DANNIE: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Forgotten', signed ('Dannie Abse') with the remark 'to be taken with aspirins and only occasionally', 18 lines in three six-line stanzas, beginning 'That old country I once said I'd visit...', 1 page, quarto, July 1971
PORTER, PETER: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Happening at Sordid Creek', signed ('Peter Porter'), 24 lines in two seven-line and one ten-line stanzas, beginning 'I chose the blonde from the chemist's, thirty-six, / Twenty-three, thirty-seven, I was Midas, / We had a lifetime's touching to get through...', 2 pages, quarto, 27 January 1964
BLUNDEN, EDMUND: Autograph impromptu poem beginning 'How unangelic must a verse of mine / Follow the voice of Edgell my old friend...', signed ('Edmund Blunden'), 20 lines in five four-line stanzas, 1 page, quarto, 13 March 1966 (followed by a poetical response to Blunden by White)
REDGROVE, PETER: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Erosion', signed ('Peter Redgrove'), 27 lines, beginning 'Darkness is a power. She haunts with power...', 2 pages, quarto, 2 February 1970
WILBUR, RICHARD: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'The Proof', signed ('Richard Wilbur'), 8 lines in four two-line stanzas, beginning 'Shall I love God for causing me to be?...', 1 page, quarto, London, 1964
STALLWORTHY, JON: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'Two Hands', signed ('Jon Stallworthy'), 20 lines, beginning 'My father in his study sits up late, / a pencil nodding stiffly in the hand / that thirteen times between breakfast and supper led a scalpel an intricate / dance...', 1 page, quarto, November 1965
DAY-LEWIS, CECIL: Autograph manuscript of his poem signed ('C Day Lewis'), 16 lines in two eight-line stanzas, beginning 'In love, the animal speaks / With an angel's tongue...', 1 page, quarto, not dated
CAUSLEY, CHARLES: Autograph manuscript of his poem 'At the British War Cemetery, Bayeux', signed ('Charles Causley'), 24 lines in four-line stanzas, beginning 'I walked where in their talking graves / And shirt of earth five thousand lay...', 1 page, quarto, January 1963
Other poets who inscribed a work in the album include Anne Beer (2, 'Mist in the Otter Valley'; 'Birthday Poem from Venice'), Michael Schmidt ('Underwater'), Roy Fuller ('Sister Anne'), Alan Brownjohn, Kit Wright ('Tune for an Ice Cream Van'), Brian Patten (4, including' Lethargy'), James Kirkup (2, 'Ejaculations'; 'Tongue'), William Plomer ('Before the Crash'), Vernon Watkins ('Old Triton Time'), Peter Jay, Adrian Stokes, George MacBeth ('Owl', with a drawing of an owl), Dom Moraes ('For My Son'), Tom Driberg ('Apartment to Let'), John Lehmann ('In the Museum'), John Hollander, Hugo Williams ('Beginning to Go'), Edward Lucie-Smith ('Pieta'), Charles Osborne ('Nolan at fifty'), Wole Soyinka and Stuart Montgomery. The album also contains a drawing by Sidney Nolan.
Poetical albums of this nature and quality are rarely available to collectors.
PROVENANCE: Bertram Rota, who earlier sold Eddie Marsh's Little Book (a similar collection) to Eton.
REFERENCE: Edward Marsh's Little Book, reproduced in Facsimile, 2 volumes, Eton, 1990.