The True Hero and Other Poems … 

Glasgow, Morison Brothers, 1893. 

12mo, pp. 164; with preliminary blank and a half-title, errata slip tipped onto contents page; small stain to upper margin of pp. [9-12], otherwise a fine copy; in the publisher’s blue cloth, blocked in black and blind, lettered in gilt; small mark to lower board; pencil presentation inscription to preliminary blank.


US $457€420

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First edition, scarce, a presentation copy, inscribed in a shaky hand ‘To Wm J. Robertson / with author’s regards / Alex Laing / 8-4-19’. 

In the long narrative poem of the title, Dirk Darrell of Kilmarton evolves, in blank hexameters, from ‘retrograde youth’ to ‘True Hero’.  Occasional verses include an elegy for Tennyson written in 1892, a ‘Jubilee Ode’ written for Queen Victoria in 1887, ‘On a Borderer leaving Glasgow for Queensland’, and a poem on the Glasgow Exhibition 1888. 

Many works have a decided political bent.  A ‘Trilogy on the extension of the franchise, 1886’ is written in the voices of the Commons, the Lords, and the People.  In ‘Father Christmas Turns Socialist’, Laing attacks trickle-down economics – ‘these droppings through a sieve / From purse-proud upper classes’ – and the volume closes with an ‘Ode to Socialism’. 

The author, Alexander Laing, originally from the Scottish Borders, had moved to Glasgow eight years earlier but we have been unable to identify him further and this appears to be his only publication. 

OCLC and Library Hub show six copies in the UK; North Carolina and UC Davis only in the US. 

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