Book ID: 28904 Poems. AMERICAN POETRY, McDonald Clarke.

The Mad Poet of Broadway


Place and Imprint: New York: Published by J. W. Bell, 1836.
Edition: First edition.
Bibliographical References: BAL 3300, state 2; American Imprints 36726; and see Robert Fraker, "Stomach for Them All: Collecting Minor American Verse in the Twenty-First Century," PBSA, Vol. 107, No. 3, 2015.
Condition: Early ink signature partially erased from the front paste-down; some light foxing; cloth a little spotted and rubbed; but overall an unusually fine copy.
Book ID: 28904

Physical Description

12mo, original brown cloth, gilt lettering on the upper board. Frontis portrait.


A collection of approximately 100 poems by McDonald Clarke (1798-1842), a.k.a. “The Mad Poet of Broadway,” a beloved but enigmatic figure of New York’s Knickerbocker literary scene and a model of the stereotypical forlorn but talented and deserving poet. Bookseller Robert Fraker wrote in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society that the “erratic, occasionally sublime, and startlingly modern lines of McDonald Clarke, neglected and absent from anthologies, could be read for insights into the poetry of Walt Whitman, who thought enough of Clarke to compose a beautiful elegy on his death [“The Death and Burial of McDonald Clarke”], published in the pages of the Aurora.” Fitz-Greene Halleck, another friend and admirer, wrote that Clarke’s oddities were all amiable; and Lydia Maria Child composed a ten-page memoir of Clarke, perhaps the best piece about him, in her Letters from New York (1843): His “life was like a troubled and fantastic dream; apparently without use to himself or others. Yet he was one who has left a record on the public heart, and will not soon be forgotten.” The six-page preface to Poems is a profound commentary by Clarke on his life and struggles: "Who cares for me? - Silence sneers. . . . Donald Clarke has never been put on the laurel'd List of the Poets of this Land. . . . The Book is pioneer'd by no parade of puffery - I despise it - no dazzling name of a distinguished Publisher blazing on the title-page. . . . In short, if the life of my poetry is wholesome, 'twill breathe, after the wild spirit that inspired it, has been sobered at the terrible tribunal of Eternity, and the weak hand that traced it, long wasted to ashes." See the ODAB and Wikipedia.

Price: $2,250.00