This magisterial work of scholarly reconstruction restores the entirety of William Everson's early poetry in a single volume, including not only the full contents of the 1948 New Directions edition of The Residual Years -- first section of Everson's "life trilogy", The Crooked Lines of God -- but subsequent textual variants and later author revisions, as well as an extensive compilation of uncollected and unpublished poems from 1934-1948, all of which combine to allow us a fascinating first look at this poet's beginnings and the development of his art.Emerging here in a sudden annunciation of gifts, in poems of the mid-1930s Everson's individual voice can be perceived evolving from that of his master, Robinson Jeffers. Along with Jeffers the greatest of our poets of Western landscape, Everson from the first incorporates psyche into that stark landscape in a way very much his own -- while also purposefully echoing a bardic tradition projected from his Nordic roots: The year dies fiercely: out of the north the beating storms, And windat the roof's edge, lightning swording the low sky: This year dyinglike some traitored Norse stumbling under the deep wounds, The furious steel smashing and swinging.From the northern room I watch in the dusk, And being unsocial regard the coming year coldly, Suspicious of strangers, distrustful of innovations, Reluctant to chance one way or another the unknown. I leave this year as a man leaves wine, Remembering the summer, bountiful, the good fall the monthsmellow and full. I sit in the northern room, in the dusk, the death of a year, And watch it go down in thunder.
This collects between covers all of William Everson's poetry from 1934-1948 before he became (in 1951) Brother Antoninus; his The Residual Years which first appeared on this list in 1948 as well as subsequent poems in limited editions. Everson's life has been varied; he married twice, owned a vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley, and was involved in publishing two avant garde magazines. These early poems reflect the depression years as well as his own personal dichotomy - between a life of the senses and the inclination toward some superior spiritual power. His descriptions of landscapes and physical love are lush and self-revealing - a sensuous poetry even in the use of images and words which presage clearly how he evolved, as Brother Antoninus, into a religious poet who is also an "unprecedented exponent of erotic mysticism." (Kirkus Reviews)