New York: Sheed & Ward, 1944. First edition. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Book about-fine except for gently bumped lower corners, neat tape repair to verso, slight toning to the spine and edges of the bright dust jacket. Item #397
"SO TOUCH MY DYING LIP: SO BRIDGE THAT DEEP: / SO PLEDGE MY WAKING FROM THE GIFT OF SLEEP, / AND, SACRAMENTAL, RAISE ME THE DIVINE: / STRONG BROTHER IN GOD AND LAST COMPANION, WINE"
First edition of a wartime collection of Hilaire Belloc's poetry. The title of this collection is a nod to Belloc's first book, Verses and Sonnets (1896), published nearly fifty years earlier. Though his poetry went in and out of print for years, Belloc's reputation was not based on his abilities as a poet. Readers were, perhaps, distracted by his love for polemics. His friends and admirers lamented that these verses and sonnets "had not 'excited a ripple of attention at the time'" but they "gained solace from the fact that some of Belloc's early poems had lived, 'and are now found in many anthologies, whereas the verse which at this time was received with a clamour of applause is nearly all of it not only dead, but buried and completely forgotten.'" (Maurice Baring quoted in Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief). Save for the beautifully-wrought dust jacket, this edition is sparely designed, with only a dedication ("To John Swinnerton Phillimore/A Dedication with this Book of Verse") to preface the text and with no back matter. Composed of: I. Sonnets, II. Lyrical, Didactic, and Grotesque, III. Songs, IV. Ballads, V. Epigrams, VI. The Ballad of Val-es-dunes, Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine. A lovely copy of the enduring work of an author who was an integral part of the Catholic intellectual tradition of the twentieth century.