London & Oxford Continued
In The Universal Dance (1981), a posthumous publication of selected prose writings, Brasch dedicated 25 pages to the English poet Robert Graves. He admired Graves's polished verse and felt he was 'among the finest English poets of our time, one of the few who is likely to be remembered as a poet.' Because of Brasch's penchant for Graves, Special Collections at Otago holds the largest collection of works by Graves in New Zealand. Brasch actually purchased this work by Graves, with its cover design by Vanessa Bell, in Oxford in May 1928. Printed in an edition of 1000 copies, 400 were later pulped.
Brasch's Ex-libris bookplate depicts Bellerophon's attempt to get to the summit of Mount Olympus, the realm of the Gods, on the winged horse Pegasus. Bellerophon fails and spends the rest of his life wandering the earth. Brasch aimed high in life, and no doubt believed that any attempt was better than none at all. There were compensations for mere mortals: the nine Muses, including Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), and Athene (the patroness of arts and crafts) lived on the slopes. There are three versions of his bookplate: one printed on yellowish paper; a University Library generated one; and this cream coloured one, pasted in his copy of Brooke's 1914 and Other Poems, purchased in Oxford in September 1927.
Access to good bookshops in Oxford was an obvious boon to a reader like Brasch. Some of the works he purchased there included Yeats' Plays and Controversies (1923), John M. Synge's Plays (1924), Humbert Wolfe's Requiem (1927), Walter de la Mare's The Veil (1921), Max Brod's The Redemption of Tycho Brahe (1928), John Masefield's Saltwater Ballads (1924), Richard Church's Mary Shelley (1928), James Joyce's Pomes Penyeach (1927) and D. H. Lawrence's Nettles (1930), which was No.11 in the Faber and Faber 'Criterion Miscellany' series and printed in an edition of 3000 copies.
The American poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972) was a major figure in the Modernist movement in the first half of the 20th century, and a great supporter to many artists, poets and writers. It is therefore not surprising that Brasch bought and read his work, especially his poetry. On 19 March 1928, he bought Pound's Canzoni (1911) and Lustra (1916). In April, along with a French edition of Maurois's Ariel: ou, La Vie de Shelley (1927), there was another small burst, securing Exultations (1909), Personae (1909) and Ripostes (1915). Exultations was Pound's fourth book, published in 1000 copies, of which only 500 were issued. It contains 'Francesca', perhaps one of his best early poems.