This first edition of Mary Custis Vezey’s first collection of poems contains work in Russian and English, as well as translations of Aleksandr Blok and Nikolai Gumilev into English and of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sarah Teasdale, and George Santayana into Russian.
Bilingual poet Mary Custis Vezey (sometimes spelled Mariia Vizi, 1904-1994) was born in New York to a Russian mother and American father. Vezey grew up in St. Petersburg and Harbin, where Vezey’s father published an English-Russian newspaper. As an adult, Vezey lived in Shanghai, and eventually settled in San Francisco in 1973. Vezey published three books of poetry and left many unpublished works following her death at age 90.
Although Vezey has been called (by Olga Bakich, who edited Vezey’s collected works) “the most skilled poet in the group [of women writers in the Russian literary community in Harbin] in terms of her mastery of poetic form,” she still remains relatively unknown.
Vezey presented this copy of her poems to fellow Russian-American writer Margaret Zarudny Freema.
Pictured below is the book’s simple checkered-cloth cover, along with a translation into Russian of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “I Shall Go Back”:
Pictured below are two of Vezey’s own poems, one in Russian, and one in English.
*2007-819. Houghton Library, Harvard University. Images may not be reproduced without permission.
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