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BABEL Verlag
Kevin Perryman


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The Cross

R.S. Thomas (1913-2000) is one of the best English-language poets of the 20th century. BABEL is proud to have been associated with his work for nearly 30 years. This publication contains eight poems related to the Cross, a central focus in his work. One of the poems has never been printed before.

The Cross was set by hand and printed in an edition of 250 copies by Thomas Siemon of carpe plumbum in Leipzig. It contains reproductions of four etchings by Vroni Schwegler. 50 special copies have an original etching bound in as a frontispiece and are numbered and signed by the artist.

The Cross would make a perfect present for someone who loves or collects the poetry of R. S. Thomas, or for anyone who appreciates fine poetry and fine printing.

    In the west, small as
    the cross is, there is still room
    for the gamblers and speculators
    to play high in its shadow.

The book includes poems from six collections, Pietà (1966), H'm (1972), Between Here and Now (1981), Experimenting With An Amen (1986), The Echoes Return Slow (1988) and Frieze (1992) and is thus also interesting as an illustration of the way the poet repeatedly returned to the image of the Cross in the course of four decades. Three of the poems are not in the so-called Collected Poems 1945-1990.

One fine late 22-line poem in The Cross has not previously appeared in print anywhere.

The etchings in The Cross are masterpieces of the craft, echoing without irony traditional images of the Crucifixion, but remaining clearly contemporary in tone. Vroni Schwegler is well-known in the German-speaking world. For her etchings she invariably uses damaged, scratched plates which are often slightly irregularly shaped. This, together with her fine line and hatching, gives the images an extraordinary intensity and fragility. In fact, it was her images of the Crucifixion that first gave the publisher the idea of making a book of Cross poems.

Set by hand in Typoart Garamond and printed (letterpress) by Thomas Siemon, Leipzig, on 120gsm Munken Pure paper; the reproductions of the etchings were printed (offset) by Dinauer Druck, Puchheim, on Symbol Tatami ivory 135gsm; 24pp.; format: 24 x 17 cm, hand-sewn in "anthracite" grey Zaansch Bord wrappers in an edition of 250 copies, of which 50 are numbered and signed by the artist and include an original etching. The pure rag paper for the wrappers was made (using only discarded clothes) in the last working paper windmill in the world, De Schoolmeester, in Westzaan, the Netherlands - without chemicals, dyes or size. The etchings for the special edition were pulled in the workshop of Max Dunkes in Gronsdorf.

R. S. Thomas  &  V. Schwegler,     The Cross    £ 38

The Cross  special: numbered (1-50) and signed by V. Schwegler, with etching    £ 118

cf.   The Bright Field / Das helle Feld,   Frieze,   Decidious Language / Laubbaum Sprache,   Charity's Scarecrow / Die Vogelscheuche Nächstenliebe,   With Claws of Fire / Mit Fängen aus Feuer,   The Sky-Rhyming Child / Das himmelreimende Kind,   In Delicate Nooses / In zierlichen Schlingen,   Stone Twittering / Steinzwitschern,   Dove-Marks on Stone  and   The Cross / Das Kreuz (bilingual)

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