Cover image for Poems of the American West
Poems of the American West
Mezey, Robert.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2002]

Physical Description:
256 pages ; 17 cm.
General Note:
"This is a Borzoi Book"--T.p. verso.
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Geographic Term:
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PS595.W39 P64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In this provocative and thoughtful anthology, many voices join in illuminating the remarkably vast and varied American West. The verse collected here ranges from American Indian tribal poems to old folk songs like "The Streets of Laredo," from country-western lyrics to the work of such foreign poets as Bertolt Brecht and Zbigniew Herbert. Here is the West in all its rich variety-the harsh life of farms and ranches; man's destructive invasion into forest and desert solitudes; the bars and bistros of San Francisco and Hollywood; Pacific surf and endless highways; the ghost towns, the poverty, and the legendary world of cowpunchers and gunslingers.

From Robert Frost's "Once by the Pacific" to Charles Bukowski's "Vegas," from Fred Koller's "Lone Star State of Mind" to Thom Gunn's "San Francisco Streets"-the West is evoked in all its incarnations, both actual and mythic.

Author Notes

Robert Mezey is an eminent poet, translator, critic, and editor. His books include the Lamont Prize-winning The Lovemaker (1960) and Collected Poems 1952-1999 (2000). He lives in Pomona, California.



At the Bomb Testing Site At noon in the desert a panting lizard waited for history, its elbows tense, watching the curve of a particular road as if something might happen. It was looking at something farther off than people could see, an important scene acted in stone for little selves at the flute end of consequences. There was just a continent without much on it under a sky that never cared less. Ready for a change, the elbows waited. The hands gripped hard on the desert. Excerpted from Poems of the American West All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Once by the Pacific Auspex
The Gift Outright
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
Witter Bynner (1881-1968)
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
Compensation The Eye
Folksongs Me and My Uncle Jesse James
The Streets of Laredo
The Buffalo Skinners
Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1896-1988)
Bookmarks Science Came West
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Hollywood Landscape of Exile
Janet Lewis (1899-1998)
For John Muir, a Century and More Afte His Time Tribal Poems Chippewa
"Sometimes I go about"
Song of the Eclipse Makah
Song Hidatsa
We Made a Fire Papago
Song of the Brown Buzzard Dakota
Song of Reproach Chippewa
Where the Fight Was Pawnee
Better to Die Young Crow
Prayer Offering Malecite
Tale Pawnee
Buffalo Dance Song Chemehuevi
Love Song Sanpoil
After Hunting Yuma
Death Song Sioux
"The earth is all that lives"
Yvor Winters (1900-1968)
The Journey On Rereading a Passage from John Muir John Sutter To the Holy Spirit
Brewster Ghiselin (1903-1996)
Rattlesnake Headland
Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)
From Andree Rexroth -Kings River Canyon
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
The Rose
Josephine Miles (1911-1985)
West from Ithaca
J. V. Cunningham (1911-1985)
Montana Pastoral From To What Strangers, What Welcome Montana Fifty Years Ago
Karl Shapiro (1913-2000)
California Winter Western Town California Petrarchan
Virginia Hamilton Adair (b. 1913)
Mojave Evening Second Coming
Weldon Kees (1914-1955)
Two Cities
William Stafford (1914-1998)
At the Bomb Testing Site
The Tillamook Burn In the Oregon Country
What Ever Happened to the Beats?
Traveling Through the Dark
Ann Stanford (1916-1987)
The Four Horsemen
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
Lee Gerlac (b. 1920)
Charles Goster (1922-1967)
How Everything Was in the End Resolved in California
Louis Simpson (b. 1923)
West The Redwoods
Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998)
John Haines (b. 1924)
Pawnee Dust Ghost Town Alive in the World Men Against the Sky
Edgar Bowers (1925-2000)
Someone in San Francisco Breakages
Donald Justice (b. 1925)
Henry James by the Pacific Banjo Dog Variations Alan Stephens (b. 1925)
After Work: Foreword From Water Among the Stones Along the Matilija -XVI The End of Something -XVII Yucca Whipplei
David Wagoner (b. 1926)
Tumbleweed Fire by the River
Henri Coulette (1928-1989)
The Extras From
The Hermit -Elsewhere Quake
The Garden
James Wright (1928-1980)
The Frontier Outside Fargo, North Dakota
William Dickey (1928-1994)
On His Way to Wyoming Coyote's Song
Charles gullan (1929-1993)
Los Angeles Place Names From
Many Houses, Part 1
Thom Gunn (1929-2004)
Hitching into Frisco San Francisco Streets
Bert Meyers (1929-1979)
From Landscapes -The City The Drive
Miller Williams (b. 1930)
Pity and Fear Peter Everwine (b. 1930)
Collecting the Ani