This is the definitive selection of Jeffers poetry. His narrative poetry shares a greatness with the best poets of the ages. The poems included here range from Roan Stallion and Cawdor from the twenties to his last poems in the late fifties.
If you are going to have one book of Jeffers, and if you are interested at all in 20th century American poetry you must have at least one, this is the one. Jeffers wrote a lot of beautiful shorter poems, but to really feel his passion it is necessary to become immersed in the longer narratives and this book contains a selection of the best!
In the 1920s, on the strength of Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems, Jeffers's critical reputation rivaled those of Frost and Eliot while the relatively frank sexual material to be found in his long, rough-hewn, often Callifornia-based narratives didn't hurt his popular reputation, as Washington State University professor Hunt notes in his introduction. After hitting the cover of Time in 1935, Jeffers (1887 1962) made a selection from his work three years later for Random House, one that has been listed as "out of stock indefinitely" for the last few years. A much more modest Random selected edition published a few years after Jeffers's death remains in print in paper, but this huge selection, culled from the monumental five-volume collected edition Hunt has edited for Stanford, is much more comprehensive, and can claim improved textual accuracy. Hunt's edition strips the punctuation added by contemporary printers (which "often obscures the rhythm and pacing of what Jeffers actually wrote, and at points even obscures meaning and nuance") and includes a carefully weighed choice of long and short works, as well as unpublished work. Jeffers's serious and sometimes morally indignant parables have most recently been taken up by Dana Gioia and others as a bulwark against Pound-and-Eliot line modernism. This new selection will get readers closer than ever to the poems as Jeffers himself saw them, reacquainting them with "the night-wind veering, the smell of the spilt wine," and allowing readers to place him on their own.