(Salem, Oregon: E. M. Waite, Book and Job Printer, 1871). 183 x 120 mm. (7 3/8 x 5"). 253 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Publisher's green buckram, gilt wreath on upper cover, smooth spine with gilt titling. Front free endpaper with ink signature of Clara Humason (see below). A little wear to extremities, a couple of corner creases or small stains, otherwise an excellent copy, internally clean and fresh, in a solid binding.
This collection of verse from a pioneer is the first book of poetry to be published in Oregon by a woman. An orphan from Connecticut, 17-year-old Belle Walsh followed the trail to Oregon in 1851 with her uncle, an undertaking memorialized here in the poem "Crossing the Plains." There, she beame a schoolteacher and met her husband, Salem businessman Joseph Cooke. Belle (1834-1919) took a lively interest in the arts, befriending fellow writers Minnie Myrtle Miller and Frances Fuller Victor, and also in politics, serving as the first woman clerk in the Oregon legislature. The poems here are personal, and paint a vivid picture of life in the turbulent America of the mid-19th century. Particularly affecting are her poems about the Civil War, where she presents pictures of the military campaigns and the challenges of the home front through poetical "Letters" exchanged by the poet and her soldier brother. There are later poems praising the beauty of nature, exalting the thrills of courtship, and invoking the dreadful grief of a mother who has buried her child. These simple verses give the modern reader a real sense of what it was to be a woman in that time and place. Former owner Clara Humason Waldo was another Oregon woman to accomplished a "first," becoming the first woman to serve on the Board of Regents of a state institution (Oregon State University). (CBJ1804)
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