London: Chatto & Windus, 1883. Provenance: from the library of Gerrit Lansing.
The presence of this book in Gerrit Lansing’s library is a testament to the prominent history of the Lansing and Roosevelt families in America in New York State and particularly Albany - and also a testament to Roosevelt’s wide and eclectic reading, and surprising love for Swinburne.
As Corinne Roosevelt Robinson writes in 1921;
“His love of poetry in those days became a very living thing, and the summer following his first college year was one in which the young people of Oyster Bay turned with glad interest to the riches not only of nature but of literature as well. I find among my papers, painstakingly copied in red ink in my brother’s handwriting, Swinburne’s poem “The Forsaken Garden.” He had sent it to me, copying it from memory when on a trip to the Maine Woods. Later, upon his return, we
would row by moonlight to “Cooper’s Bluff” (near which spot he was eventually to build his beloved home, Sagamore Hill) and there, having climbed the sandy bulwark, we would sit on top of the ledge looking out on the shimmering waters of the Sound, and he would recite with a lilting swing in the tone of his voice which matched the rhythm of the words” ‘In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland…. He always loved the rhythm of Swinburne….” - Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, “My Brother Theodore Roosevelt” in Robert Bridges et al, eds. Scribner’s Vol. 69, pp. 556-568.
Edward Wagenknecht, in his examination of TR’s reading habits, notes Swinburne as the outlier.
“Swinburne, however, was the great surprise. I should have expected T. R. to have turned from
him in loathing. And there are poems like the one in praise of Nell Gwyn, which he found too much to take. Nevertheless, he was entranced by Swinburne’s melody. He once told Kermit ‘that he had particularly enjoyed Swinburne and Shelley in ranching days in the Bad Lands, because they were so totally foreign to the life and the country - and supplied an excellent antidote to the daily round.” [Wagenknecht p. 60].
This strange copy of Swinburne is a telling book in Gerrit’s library, bringing together the long American history of his prominent family, the social circles in which they moved, and also the very American paradox of Roosevelt’s fascination with a decadent poet who explored many themes taboo to mainstream society, including cannibalism, paganism, and homosexuality.
Text block disbound from the boards, which are split at the rear gutter, but complete, with thebackstrip preserved. A good candidate for a rebind. Item #27809