AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF THE FIRST PART OF HIS POEM 'THE CONSUMPTIVE: BELSEN 1945', 28 lines, one autograph revision, 1 page, folio, 1945
If seeing her an hour before her last
Weak cough into all blackness I could yet
Be held by chalk-white walls, and by the great
Ash coloured bed,
And the pillows hardly creased
By the tapping of her little cough-jerked head -
If such can be a painters ecstasy,
(Her limbs like pipes, her head a china scull)
Then where is mercy?...
PART OF ONE OF PEAKE'S MOST FAMOUS POEMS.
Published in Mervyn Peake Collected Poems, 2008. Peake visited Belsen in 1945. The manuscript has one word different from the printed version - in line 11, 'calling' for 'traffic'. Only two other poetical manuscripts by Peake have appeared at auction. The Bodleian Library has the main holdings of his poetical manuscripts.
PROVENANCE: Michael Silverman.
REFERENCE: Location Register of Twentieth-Century Literary Manuscripts and Letters, 2 volumes, 1988.