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Walt Whitman at the Lilly

Whitman and Thomas Mosher

Leaves facsimile

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman:  Facsimile Edition of the 1855 Text.  Portland, Maine:  Thomas Bird Mosher and Francis Gable, 1919.

One of 250 copies printed on Old Stratford white wove paper and “bound in dark green cloth to match the original edition.”  Mosher (1852-1923), a stationer turned publisher extraordinaire, created the first significant private press in the United States.   This was the first facsimile of Whitman’s poem ever published.  Mosher once spent two years working in a bookstore in St. Louis and it was there, as he describes in the erudite, allusive introduction, that he first beheld Walt, on a memorable fall day in 1879:  “Alas! I lacked the courage to go and greet him, and ‘tis now forty years since.”  The facsimile had been for him “a sweetly solemn obligation,” exclaims Mosher.  Sounding like the poet Dante, Mosher explains that he was motivated by the desire to make Leaves of Grass “a joy forever to such as have come into the circle of love—all love excelling.”