TERROR AND DECORUM : POEMS 1940 - 1948 (with a SIGNED letter, from the Poet, and publisher's yellow printed band, laid in)
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949. First Edition. Hardcover. 8vo. Green cloth-covered boards with black and white design to front board and white lettering to spine. Vierick won the Pulitzer Prize for this first book of his poems (he had previously written history, politics, literary criticism), Terror and Decorum, in 1949. Very light sunning and fading to extremities of book. Dustjacket, with price intact, shows sunning and some edgewear and light chipping to top of spine and flap folds. Yellow band which, judging from its folds, was issued wrapped around the dustjacket. On the front is printed in large black letters "Awarded the Pulitzer Price for Poetry 1949" and on the reverse, a quote from poet Karl Shapiro: "Peter Viereck has already taken his place as one of the few poets worth reading closely. He is the first one in years who has said something new ---He has the courage to be wild, and he brings a true excitement through his lines. I find more hope in him than in any other post-war poet." Very Good Plus in a Good Plus Dustjacket. Item #84927
Viereck in the 1940s was an early leader in the conservative movement but by 1951 felt that it had strayed from true conservatism. [arguing] ...for a "new conservatism" to counter the "storm of authoritarianism" in Europe and Moral relativism in the USA. He claimed communism and Nazism were utopian and would sanction the murder of oppositions (as in anti-semitism) and that liberalism shared a naive belief in progress and humanity's essential goodness Viereck's essay was deliberately provocative – "I have watched the convention of revolt harden into dogmatic ritual", he wrote of the Marxists who he said presided over campus life – but it also contained a sincere entreaty. Published as the Nazi armies were invading Denmark and Norway, it called for a "new conservatism" to combat the "storm of totalitarianism" abroad as well as moral relativism and soulless materialism at home. In 1962 Vierick elaborated upon the differences he saw between real conservatives and those he called pseudo-conservatives. Of McCarthyism, Vierick wrote: I think McCarthy was a menace ... because he corrupted the ethics of American conservatives, and that corruption leads to the situation we have now. It gave the conservatives the habit of appeasing the forces of the hysterical right ... and appeasing them knowingly, expediently. I think that was the original sin of the conservative movement, and we are all suffering from it. (notes from Wikipedia)
Interestingly, the recipient of Viereck's letter, laid into this copy of the book and postmarked August 15, 1961, was a beloved and well-known educator, who was later murdered. Viereck had apparently responded to an inquiry about his poetry, from Patrick Comrie Bourke, principal of the Priory School ,Hope Road in Kingston (Jamaica) who was tied up and shot dead at his Home on Sunset Avenue Cherry gardens Kingston 8, on April 29, 1988. Mr. Bourke would have been 59 years old on May 16. Reports are that just after Bourke returned from Priory three gunmen entered the House tied him up and shot him....According to one of or. Bourke s Neighbours during the past year several incidents had occurred at the Home. A few months ago. Or Bourke was held up and robbed by gunmen. ... 'The Man is my father. I have to sleep Here tonight said one Man who said he had worked with or. Bourke for 28 years ... Several teachers and other persons who said they knew the noted educator wept unabashedly...(Kingston Gleaner, Saturday April 30, 1988).