New York City:: New Directions, 1949., 1949. 8vo. 89,  pp. Quarter orange gilt-stamped cloth, decorative white and brown paste paper over boards, dust jacket, slip-case; occasional foxing. Dual bookplates from Occidental (released) and Lawrence Clark Powell. SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. Near fine. Limited edition of 50 numbered copies of which this is number 32, printed on Fabriano paper, designed by Hans Mardersteig and printed at the Stamperia Valdonega in Verona, Italy. SIGNED by the author on the half-title page. "James Laughlin, founder of the New Directions Publishing Corporation which published and kept in print most of Rexroth's books, agreed that the poet found his mature style in The Phoenix and the Tortoise and The Signature of All Things (1950). 'When he hit his true vein, a poetry of nature mixed with contemplation and philosophy, it was magnificent,' Laughlin claimed in a tribute written for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1982. Published in 1944, The Phoenix and the Tortoise was called by Morgan Gibson in his book Kenneth Rexroth, 'much more coherent in style and theme' than Rexroth's earlier work while focusing less on experimentation and politics. Instead, the book initiated a study of 'the 'integral person' who, through love, discovers his responsibility for all in a world of war, cold war, and nuclear terror.' The true achievement of The Phoenix and the Tortoise and Rexroth's next book, The Signature of All Things, was the emergence of 'poems that affirm more convincingly than ever the transcendent power of personal love,' Gibson stated. 'Read The Signature of All Things,' Laughlin urged. 'It, how shall I put it, pulls everything in human life together. It is all there, all the things we cherish, all our aspirations, and over it all a kind of Buddhist calm.' Reviewing The Signature of All Things in the New York Times, Richard Eberhart outlined both Rexroth's intent and his accomplishment: 'Mr. Rexroth's purpose is to make a particular kind of poem which will be classical in its restraint, but without severity; personal, revealing, and confessional, without being sentimental; and it must, according to his bent, eschew symbolism and any kind of ambiguous imagery for a narrative or statement strength based on noun and verb, but not weakened by adjectives.'" – The Poetry Foundation.
(Inventory #: B2983)
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