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AHAB AND OTHER POEMS


 

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Title:

Ahab and Other Poems.  With an Introduction and Epilogue by Count Vladimir Svareff.

   

Upper Cover: State (c)

 

Lower Cover: State (c)

 

Spine: State (c)

 

Turned-In Cover Detail: State (c)

 

Title Page: All States

 

Dedication: All States

 

Part 1: All States

 

Chiswick Press: All States

Print
Variations
:

State (a):

2 copies printed on vellum.1
Bound in white Japanese turned-in wrappers.3
Upper wrapper lettered in gilt within a decorative border ‘AHAB | and other poems’.3
10 7/8” x 8 5/8”.3

______________________________


One copy currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A74 1903 - Copy 1).  Rebound by Zaehnsdorf in black morocco leather.7

Upper & lower covers have a frame stamped in gilt.7
Bottom of interior upper cover is stamped in gilt ‘BOUND BY ZAEHNSDORF’7

Spine lettered in gilt within a gilt frame ‘AHAB [vertically down the spine] | 1903 [horizontally across bottom of spine]’.7
Interior has dentelles in gilt.7 

Single line stamped in gilt on all outside edges of upper and lower covers.  A series of short lines stamped in gilt in a semi-circle along the top and bottom of spine, following the curvature of the spine.7

State (b):

10 copies printed on Japanese vellum.1
Pages uncut.8
Bound in white turned-in wrappers of a thinner Japanese vellum.4
Upper wrapper lettered in gilt within a decorative border ‘AHAB | and other poems’.4
10 7/8” x 8 5/8”.4

______________________________


Two copies currently reside in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A74 1903 - Copy 2 & 3).

One copy rebound by Zaehnsdorf in black morocco leather with original wrappers preserved.7
Upper & lower covers have a double frame stamped in gilt.7
Bottom of interior upper cover is stamped in gilt ‘BOUND BY ZAEHNSDORF’7

Spine stamped with two parallel lines in gilt at top and bottom of spine.7
Interior has dentelles in gilt.7 

Double lines stamped in gilt on all outside edges of upper and lower covers.  A series of short double lines stamped in gilt in a semi-circle along the top and bottom of spine, following the curvature of the spine.7  

State (c):

150 copies printed on hand-made paper.1
Pages uncut.8
Bound in off-white Japanese vellum turned-in wrappers over plain card covers.5
Upper wrapper lettered in gilt on within a decorative border ‘AHAB | and other poems’.5
10 7/8” x 8 5/8”.5

______________________________


One copy currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A74 1903 - Copy 4).  Rebound by Zaehnsdorf in red morocco leather with original wrappers preserved.7
Upper & lower covers have a double frame stamped in gilt.7
Bottom of interior upper cover is stamped in gilt ‘BOUND BY ZAEHNSDORF’7

Spine stamped with two parallel lines in gilt at top and bottom of spine.7
Interior has dentelles in gilt.7 

Double lines stamped in gilt on all outside edges of upper and lower covers.  A series of short double lines stamped in gilt in a semi-circle along the top and bottom of spine, following the curvature of the spine.7  

 
Publisher: Privately published.  
Printer: Chiswick Press.2  Cooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.7  
Published At:    
Date: Published in the fall of 1903.10  
Edition: 1st Edition.  
Pages:

viii + 36.

 
Price: The hand-made paper copies were priced at 5 shillings.1  
Remarks: Printed in the Caxton fount of antique type.1 
Title page and "Part I" and "Part II" printed in black and red.7
Count Vladimir Svareff is a pseudonym of Aleister Crowley.
Dedicated to George Cecil Jones.7
Crowley began work on Ahab in 1902 while in Akyab, Burma, and completed it on December 9th of the same year.9
 
Pagination:3
Page(s)  
[   i] Half-title
[   ii] Blank
[   iii] Title-page
[   iv] Blank
[   v] Dedication to George Cecil Jones, Paris, December 9, 1902.
[   vi] Blank
[   vii] Contents
[   viii] Blank
[   1] Rondel
[   2] Blank
[3-11] Text (Part I)
[   12] Blank
[13-21] Text (Part II)
[   22] Blank
[   23] Divisional title ‘Other Poems’
[   24] Blank
[   25] Text
[   26] Blank
[27-29] Text
[   30] Blank
[31-33] Text
[   34] Blank
[   35] Epilogue
[   36] Colophon ‘[Printer’s coat of arms] | Chiswick Press:  Cooks Court, | Chancery Lane, London.’
 
Contents:

-  Rondel

-  Ahab

-  Balzac

-  Melusine

-  The Dream

-  Epilogue
 

Author’s
Working
Versions:

1.

Holograph manuscript and typescript version bound together.  Pages:  67.  Dated:  1903.  Box 6, Folder 1.  Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX.

 

Other
Known
Editions:

+

The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Vol. II, pg. 121, Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness, 1906.

+ Gordon Press, New York, 1974.
 
Bibliographic
Sources:
1.

 L. C. R. Duncombe-Jewell, Notes Towards An Outline of A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Aleister Crowley, The Works of Aleister Crowley, Volume III, Appendix A, Gordon Press, New York, 1974, p. 237.  

2.

Ibid, p. 236.

3.

Dianne Frances Rivers, A Bibliographic List with Special Reference To the Collection at the University of Texas,  Master of Arts Thesis, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1967, p. 24.

4.

Ibid, p. 24-25.

5.

Ibid, p. 25.

6. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. 
7. Personal observation of the item.
8. J.F.C. Fuller, Bibliotheca Crowleyana:  The Collection of J.F.C. Fuller, Sure Fire Press, Edmonds, WA, 1989, p. 7.
9. Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo:  the Life of Aleister Crowley,North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2010, pp. 98, 109. 
10. Ibid., p.122. 
 

Comments by
Aleister
Crowley:

     While at Akyab I wrote Ahab, which, with a few other poems, was published as a companion to Jezbel.
     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 273.

 

Reviews:

     Mr Aleister Crowley’s previous work has been eccentric, and at the best he has done more to provoke curiosity than to give confidence.  Now he chooses to handicap himself by printing poems in a type that must inevitably impose restrictions upon many readers, and we think that the diction, usually admirably simple, of the principal piece in “Ahab and Other Poems” (Chiswick Press, pp. 34, 5s. net) suffers from any interruption of the fluency of its rhythms.  Mr Crowley has amplified the Biblical narrative, and, with an obvious revolt of sympathy, has given to the savage figure of Ahab something of the nobility of reason that rebels against the tyranny of his fate.  There is a modern self-consciousness in this tragic, brooding monologue—

 

I see him, a fantastic ghost,

The vineyard smiling white and plain,

And hiding ever innermost

The little shadows on his brain;

I laugh again with mirthless glee,

As knowing also I am he.

 

A fool in gorgeous attire!

An ox decked bravely for his doom!

So step I to the great desire.

Sweet winds upon the gathering gloom

Bend like a mother, as I go,

Foreknowing, to my overthrow.

 

Mr Crowley has some doubtful phrases, but most of his verse is clear and moderate.  Here is his picture of Naboth:—

 

The beast.  A gray deceitful man,

With twisted mouth the beard would hide,

Evil yet strong; the scurrile clan

Exaggerate for its greed and pride,

The scum of Israel!  At one look

I read my foe as in a book.

 

The beast.  He groveled in the dust.

I heard the teeth grind as he bowed

His forehead to the earth.  Still just,

Still patient, passionless, and proud,

I ruled my heavy wrath.  I passed

That hidden insult, spake at last.

 

The other pieces include a grandiose sonnet on Rodin’s statue of Balzac; “Melusine,” in which mannerisms and affectations predominate; and “The Dream,” a smooth piece of verse that leaves no very strong impression.  There are an introduction and an epilogue in verse by Count Vladimir Svareff.

—The Manchester Guardian, circa 1903.

 ______________________________

 

     Mr. Aleister Crowley, not content with the usual risk of the neglect that threatens minor poets, has had his verse set up in what is apparently German black-letter.  Thereby tempting the most conscientious reviewer to take his volume as read.

—The Glasgow Herald, date unknown.

______________________________
 

     "Ahab and Other Poems", by Mr. Aleister Crowley is a sumptuous volume, delightful to eyes accustomed to mediaeval script, but puzzling to such as are not.  The prettiest poem in the book is "The Dream," from which we give the opening lines:

 

     "Bend down in dream the shadow-shape

          Of tender breasts and bare!

     Let the long locks of gold escape,

     And cover me and fall and drape,

          A pall of whispering hair!

     And let the starry eyes look through

          That mist of silken light

     And lips drop forth their honey-dew

     And gentle sighs of sleep renew

          The scented winds of night."

 

     In "Melusine" Mr. Crowley has caught something of the trick of reiteration of metaphor, which is familiar to all readers of Mr. Swinburne, e.g.

 

     And like a devil-fish is ice,

          And like a devil-fish is cruel,

               And like a devil-fish is hate."

 

     "Thule" is, in the same stanza, made to rhyme with "cruel"!  The title-poem, which occupies two-thirds of the book, is a most unsatisfactorory performance, but it is superior in technique to the rest.

—The Westminster Review, August 1903.

______________________________
 

     Ahab, and Other Poems.  By Allister Crowley.  With an Introduction and Epilogue by Count Vladimir Svareff.  London:  Privately Printed at the Chiswick Press.

     There are not many pieces in this elaborately and handsomely printed large quarto, about which the first thing that impresses a reader is an odd typography, more luxurious than legible until custom has made it easy to read.  The chief piece is a monologue in studiously simple verse, not unmusical, which sets forth the reflections of King Ahab, firstly in his pride, and afterwards in his humiliation after the affair of Naboth’s vineyard.  Then there is a sonnet to Balzac, inspired by Rodin’s statue; then a piece of fine-spun verse-making about Melusine, that endeavours to produce the exquisite shudder which some say is the last effect of poetic art; then an irresponsible ecstasy about a dream; while the book is rounded off by a sonnet from another hand than its author’s.  The whole thing is elegant and refines; but it is the product of a polite accomplishment rather than essential poetry.

—The Scotsman, 8 June 1903.

 
       
   

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