Holmes | Oliver Wendell

Astraea: The Balance of Illusions

First Edition | First Printing



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First edition, first printing of Astraea: The Balance of Illusions, A Poem Delivered Before The Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College, August 14, 1850 by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Small octavo, 39pp. Publisher’s original glossy boards, title printed in black on front cover. BAL binding “A” with yellow endpapers and flyleaves. Solid text block, light rubbing to corners, faint soiling to boards. A near fine example. This is State B of the first printing, with an ampersand of the printer’s imprint set above the type line, and signature mark “3” listed below the “ag” of the word “fragment” on page 33. (BAL 8757) Housed in a custom half-morocco slipcase with matching cloth chemise, title in gilt on spine.

Astraea is a poem that reflects on the changing times and Oliver Wendell Holmes’ nostalgia for the past. He uses the figure of Astraea, a Greek goddess of justice, to symbolize a bygone era of innocence and purity. The poem explores themes of loss and the contrast between the idealized past and the complex realities of the present. Holmes yearns for a return to a more idyllic time, suggesting that Astraea has left the earth, leaving behind a world that has lost its moral compass.

Additional information

Location Published



Ticknor and Fields


First Edition, First Printing

Date Published



Glossy pictorial cover


Near Fine


Holmes | Oliver Wendell

Author Display

Oliver Wendell Holmes