Reynard the Fox,
John Masefield. 1919
Number 99 of 250 copies signed by the author, and with autograph transcript of 18 lines of verse from p.122 with a small pen and ink drawing of a hunting scene, signed and dated Dec.10 1920 on front free endpaper, in superb Kelliegram binding of blue morocco, each cover with oval multi-coloured central panel depicting a hunting scene framed by a brown morocco onlay strapwork design and gilt floral spray, above each oval is a rectangular panel with onlaid morocco hunting dogs in pursuit and beneath each oval is a rectangular panel with an onlaid brown morocco Reynard in flight, spine in compartments with raised bands, gilt lettering and decoration and onlaid morocco alternating fox-head and hunting horn tools, g.e., blue morocco doublures with onlaid morocco and elaborately gilt-stamped border with fox-head gilt corner-ornaments, light brown watered silk endpapers, modern cloth slip-case, 8vo, 1919.
About Reynard the literary character (from britannica.com):
Reynard The Fox, hero of several medieval European cycles of versified animal tales that satirize contemporary human society. Though Reynard is sly, amoral, cowardly, and self-seeking, he is still a sympathetic hero, whose cunning is a necessity for survival. He symbolizes the triumph of craft over brute strength, usually personified by Isengrim, the greedy and dull-witted wolf.
About Masefield’s poem:
This is an epic poem about a fox-hunt, full of evocative passages about the various town-folk and countryside. From the author:
"No fox was the original of my Reynard, but as I was much in the woods as a boy I saw foxes fairly often, considering that they are night-moving animals. Their grace, beauty, cleverness, and secrecy always thrilled me. Then that kind of grin which the mask wears made me credit them with an almost human humour. I thought the fox a merry devil, though a bloody one. Then he is one against many, who keeps his end up, and lives, often snugly, in spite of the world. The pirate and the nightrider are nothing to the fox, for romance and danger. This way of life of his makes it difficult to observe him in a free state at close quarters.
"The stars grew bright as the yews grew black,
The fox rose stiffly and stretched his back.
He flaired the air, then he padded out
To the valley below him dark as doubt.
Winter-thin with the young green crops,
For Old Cold Crendon and Hilcote Copse.”