New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1915. First edition. Small 8vo, 59pp; pink boards with printed labels. Printed card with a poem pasted to a preliminary leaf; typescript portion pasted in at rear, short tear to one page, corner bent on another; tapes marks and soil to endsheets and generally; covers worn at edges and half of backstrip missing. Item #205671
Poet's rare first book, one of 500 copies in the regular issue. This edition includes one poem ("Love the Destroyer") that was dropped from subsequent editions. This is a presentation copy, inscribed on the front pastedown with reference to the ongoing war: "To C. Edward Morris from Benjamin De Casseres, New York, May 27, 1917, In the third year of Armageddon." On the facing leaf, De Casseres has written out a nineteen-line poem "The Eternal," and signed it at the bottom. On the following page, a postcard with his poem "Ecce Homo" beneath an American flag is affixed. Tipped in at the rear is a slip with a four-line typescript poem, "Insouciance," initialed by De Casseres in ink. A neglected modernist, De Casseres was a well-regarded writer, poet, editorialist, journalist, and book reviewer in his time, associated with the Greenwich Village scene and the advent of American Dada. He was, among other things, an ardent oppenent of prohibition and claimed the likely apocryphal distinction of having been the first person in the country to take a legal drink at the moment the 21st amendment was ratified.