Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe and Company, 1854. First edition. 8vo, original embossed purple cloth, gilt stamping to the spine, 246 pages. Frontis portrait. Title and frontispiece somewhat foxed, with a trifle offset to the title; some light foxing throughout; spine and board edges sunned and somewhat faded; a very good copy. Item #18751
A moderately popular New England poet, this collection intended perhaps quietly to settle some scores on her relationship with the late Edgar Allan Poe; Locke notes in her preface, “I must, however, be allowed to say, to any who shall feel disposed to fatten on my leanness, in the language of one of the severest critics of the age, whose words of encouragement have strength and confidence to this whole volume, that ‘Poetry has been with me not a purpose, but a passion,—a passion that could not at will be excited with an eye to the paltry considerations, or the more paltry commendations of mankind.’ [Poe, from the preface to the Raven].” To lightly adapt Robert Greene to the case of Locke, the poet here might be considered something of an upstart raven, strutting with Poe’s borrowed feathers; her correspondence with Poe began in 1847 after the death of Poe’s wife and shortly after Locke had first published “An Invocation for Suffering Genius,” verses intended for Poe; Locke brought Poe to Lowell in 1848 to lecture, and it was there Locke introduced Poe to her married neighbor Nancy Locke Richmond—Poe’s “Annie” of his final year. Locke by some accounts seems to have resented Poe’s attentions to Annie and her later correspondence with Sarah Helen Whitman suggests a complicated fascination with Poe; her collection here includes her “Requiem for Edgar A. Poe,” which returns repeatedly to the command “Think not of his errors now. . . .”.