[N.P.]: [N.D.]. Original typescript with author's handwritten annotations in red ink, which were incorporated into the published version of the book. 290 pages on white paper measuring 8.5 x 11 inches and representing roughly eighty percent of the completed published book. Some ink staining and light chipping to the edges of preliminary pages and occasional dog-earing throughout; some paper loss to the corners of pages 2 and 225 not affecting any text. While the final pages are absent from this typescript, pages 1 - 444 of the 542 page published poem are present. Also included an additional 8.5 x 13 inch folded page with handwritten instructions from Stanford to the printer regarding page layouts for the printed book. An exceptional record of Stanford's meticulous final revisions on his magnum opus. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from Stanford's publisher, Irv Broughton.
"Stanford was one of the most recognized and prolific emerging poets of his generation until his suicide at the age of twenty-nine. Though all but two of his books remain out of print, his poems, which pitch startling and often surreal imagery against stark Southern landscapes, have sustained Stanford's reputation and influence" (Encyclopedia of Arkansas History). The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You is considered the crown jewel of Stanford's short career -- an epic, stream-of-consciousness poem written in one sentence across 542 pages and 15,283 lines. "Full of bravado and boyish, adolescent posturing, he brags of his exploits and outlaw spirit...Although as sprawling as Whitman's Song of Myself, it is more of a Huckleberry Finn tale of a boy's coming of age adventure in the Mississippi Delta, which he casts as a mystifying, magical, and violent landscape" (Eklins). Carved out of a previous and never-published work of his teen years, titled "St. Francis and the Wolf," the title of which appears on page 1 of the typescript, Battlefield drew on the joys and pains of Stanford's life to define him as a poet and a man. For Stanford, therefore, the flow of language at every moment of the poem was purposeful and of crucial importance. This typescript shows his meticulous care in ensuring that every bit of punctuation, every line break, and each verse was in place before final submission to the printer. Of the typescript's 290 pages, 162 bear Stanford's handwriting. At times, pages are marked with edits to punctuation and line length; at others, Stanford alters words, cuts phrases, or inverts the original order to change the flow of the verses. These revisions, combined with Stanford's included notes for the look of the printed book (on which he specifies a desire for Roman numerals in pagination "in 10 point" font, and in which he directs the printer to include "at least approx. 40 lines" per page) speak to his poetic precision. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from Stanford's publisher Irv Broughton, this manuscript played an important role in the final revision of the work.
An exceptional and unique surviving document revealing the writing process of an important American poet. Near Fine (Item #2315)