New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1961. 1st Edition. Octavo, publisher's rust cloth, spine gilt, top edge stained red, original pictorial dust jacket.
First edition of poet H.D.'s posthumously published final work, a re-creation in lyric verse, with prose interludes, of the classical myth of Helen of Troy, based on an ancient Greek fragment by the poet Stesichorus: "Alas, my brothers,/Helen did not walk/upon the ramparts,/she whom you cursed/was but the phantom and the shadow thrown/of a reflection..." Always formally innovative, H.D. first gained recognition for her Imagist verse, with its chiseled formalism and Hellenic allusions. Later, after separating from her husband, the poet Richard Aldington, and embarking on a polyamorous relationship with the novelist Bryher, H.D. underwent a shift in her work, exploring mysticism, psychoanalysis, and a deeper study of mythological archetypes. She was given the Award of Merit Medal for Poetry by the American Academy of Arts and Letters shortly before her death in 1961. "Helen in Egypt increases its spell at each rereading. A line of the poem reads, 'the old enchantment holds' – and that is true. Through the intonations of its choral music, the poem is an enchantment: there is magic in it" (from the introduction by American poet and translator Horace Gregory). First printing stated on copyright page. Spine of price-clipped dust jacket lightly faded, with some minor edgewear and trace of dampstaining to verso. Very good. Item #578