Cover image for The residual years : poems, 1934-1948 : including a selection of uncollected and previously unpublished poems
The residual years : poems, 1934-1948 : including a selection of uncollected and previously unpublished poems
Everson, William, 1912-1994.
Publication Information:
Santa Rosa, CA : Black Sparrow Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 383 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3509.V65 A17 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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-- but subsequent textual variants and later author revisions, as well as an extensive compilation of uncollected and unpublished poems from 1934-1948, all of which combine to allow us a fascinating first look at this poet's beginnings and the development of his art.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 wind

at the roof's edge, lightning swording the low sky: This year dying

like 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 months

mellow and full.

I sit in the northern room, in the dusk, the death of a year,

And watch it go down in thunder.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The publication of this first volume of Everson's collected poems is a welcome event. It comprises work from 16 editions and a generous selection of uncollected and unpublished poems. Along with Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, and Philip Lamantia, Everson was an early and central figure in the San Francisco renaissance. Deeply influenced by Whitman and Jeffers, Everson believed in the prophetic function of the poet. As Rexroth stated in his introduction to one of Everson's collections, "Everson's poems are mystical poems, records of the struggle toward peace and illumination on the stairs of natural mysticism." He was a poet for whom subject matter came first, and often that subject matter focused on spiritual aspiration. These early poems are gratifying for their spiritual force and integrity. Love poems like "The Knives" and "Love Song" from the late 1930s are as potent today as they were at the time of publication. The long poetic sequence "Chronicle of Division" probes deeply into the separation of man from woman. This volume stops before Everson's conversion to Catholicism. It includes an introduction by Rexroth, an afterword by Bill Hotchkiss, Allan Campo's introduction to the uncollected and unpublished poems, and an appendix that includes a biographical statement and chronology. Recommended in conjunction with Lee Bartlett's excellent biography William Everson: The Life of Brother Antoninus (CH, Feb'89), which sheds light on the life of this exceptional poet, this volume belongs in all collections of American poetry. L. Berk Ulster County Community College