Wednesday, August 16, 2017

316. The 2017 Alphabet: M

M is for Muse.

Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse!
O first-born on the mountains! By the hues
Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot

Initial 'M' designed by Charles Ricketts
Letters have distinct horizontal and vertical features that we can recognize easily. Bars and stems, ascenders and descenders can be identified quickly. 

The initial 'M' was designed by Charles Ricketts (see illustration above), and used only once, in 1898, in the first volume of the Vale Press edition of the poems of John Keats. 

The initial was listed, erroneously, as a 'W', by Maureen Watry in her book about the Vale Press. Mysteriously, an annotation stated that this initial 'W7' occurred as a letter 'M'.

Obviously, it was used as an 'M', because it was designed as an 'M' in the first place.

We can compare the 'M' to a 'W' initial that can be found in the second volume of Keats's poems.

Initial 'W' designed by Charles Ricketts
If we compare the shoulders of the 'M' and 'W', we see that the 'M' doesn't have the pointed shoulders that most of Ricketts's 'W' initials have. They have been topped with a stem, as is the custom.

Initials 'M' and 'W' (details), designed by Charles Ricketts
There was no mistake on Ricketts's part.