London & New York: Sheed & Ward, 1938. First edition. Octavo, original maroon cloth, gilt spine, original dust wrapper. Book fine, slight edge wear to unclipped original wrapper. An excellent copy. Item #1321
"ENGLAND LOOKE UP, THY SOYLE IS STAIND WITH BLOOD / THOU HAST MADE MARTIRS MANY OF THINE OWN"
First edition of Louise Imogen Guiney's anthology—over 25 years in the making—collecting two hundred years of English Catholic verse. A valuable addition to the Catholic Literary Revival—seldomly seen complete in the bright, unclipped original dust wrapper.
Derived from the Latin 'Recusare' (to refuse or object), the term Recusants was used to describe the Catholic families of Elizabethan and Jacobin England who dissented from the newly established Anglican Church. These families, many of them rooted in the north country, clung to their Roman faith in the face of harsh restrictions and penalties, which included exile and death. The poems collected here range from devotional verse to lamentations over the rupture of the unity of Christendom. Fleeing the narrow intellectual constraints of New England, the American Guiney fled Boston and moved to Oxford, where "she became an erudite scholar, spent much time in the Bodleian Library, and with the Jesuit, Father Geoffrey Bliss, began a huge anthology of the works of the Recusant Poets" (Calvert Alexander).
Originally projected as a multi-volume work (hence the Roman numeral on the title page) before Guiney died at Oxford in 1920, Recusant Poets evidently languished before it was guided to completion by Father Bliss (with valuable assistance by Edward O'Brien). The flap of the dust wrapper describes this work as: "a book to buy and keep near one; the combination of deep religious fervour with the subtle and noble rhythms of Tudor and Jacobean verse is certain to rivet every Catholic and every lover of English literature." Composed of 35 sections with an Introduction (unsigned) by Father Bliss: "Campion is sung by one who will follow him to Tyburn. Southwell and Walpole utter in English verse the devout beliefs they are soon to write more imperishably in their own blood." With a Dedication in Latin ("Patribvs / Fide Arte Sangvine / Nostris / Cvratorvm / Labor et Cor") and Grace Guiney's brief Preface (dated, "Oxford, November 2nd, 1938"). The text is supplemented with The Index of First Lines, The Glossary, and The Index of Names. Sheed and Ward published an American edition the following year. Uncommon. Calvert Alexander. The Catholic Literary Revival.