[San Francisco]: Sunday Examiner, 1899. First Edition. Folio (35.5cm.); pictorial bifolium printed in green, yellow, and black, author photograph printed on the upper panel. Closed tears and shallow losses along wrapper extremities, the whole rather toned due to poor paper stock. About Very Good and sound overall. Published as a supplement to the San Francisco Sunday Examiner, 1899.
Poem famously inspired by the contemporaneous painting "L'homme a la houe" by the French artist Jean-François Millet. The piece was first read at a New Year's Eve party in 1898, launching Markham's career as a poet and lecturer to the working class. The painting, recreated on the upper panel of the present edition, shows a laborer bent over by the weight of his toil, his face anguished and somehow simultaneously expressionless. Of him Markham wrote: "Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans / Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground / The emptiness of ages in his face, / And on his back the burden of the world." Presumed first published appearance of the poem according to Markham's biographical history in the Online Archive of California. The poem would also appear in a volume of Markham's poetry the same year, The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems.