Fireworks and Poetry.
[BALL, William Platt]. Poems from Turkey. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872.
8vo. Original green cloth, lettered and ornamented in gilt; pp. viii, 143, wood-engraved frontispiece, title illustrated with birds-eye-view; only light rubbing to extremities; offsetting from endpapers and occasional light spotting; otherwise a very good copy of an extremely rare title.
Ball was a freethinker born in Birmingham in 1844. He taught pyrotechny in the Sultan’s service from 1870–71, and received the order of the Medjidieh after a narrow escape from death by the bursting of a mortar. Upon his return he published Poems from Turkey (Wheeler, A Biographical Dictionary of Freethinkers of All Ages and Nations). Enchanted by the topographical beauty of Istanbul and surroundings, Ball produced poetry in praise of Turkish scenery, life and wisdom. Both the frontispiece and the title are after drawings by the author. In the preface Ball, who was 'intimately connected with the Crystal Palace firework displays' (p. iv) explains what inspired him to his poetry:
"The free open scenery, the sweet fresh air, the wonderful reality as it seemed of Nature ever clad in bright sunshine, the many sights through which I was continually passing, spending each morning by the Bosphorus waves, and each afternoon traversing the Golden Horn to the Sweet Waters of Europe, where, beside the wide smooth stream and beneath the free open mountain-hills, my 'Factory' of scattered white canvas sheds and green pavilion tents (not over now) spread itself in sunshine and cooling breeze; the triumph and strange novelty of speaking and writing Turkish successfully - the kindness and courtesy I met with - the respect and confidence I achieved - the success of all that I did - the beautiful sense of romance about everything, made it a period of deeply pleasant feelings" (pp. iii f.).