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242 Western American Literature far superior to the scanty life published in The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West (Vol. I, Glendale, 1965) by Carl P. Russell. Yet his contention that in my edition of Astoria I ill-advisedly defended Irving’s allegedly disparaging characterization (p. 52) of the partners and Canadian clerks on board the Tonquin represents, I feel, a problem in interpreting exactly what Irving meant (since Irving repeatedly gives not his attitude but rather Captain Thorn’s) and also, perhaps, of misjudging the intent of my remarks. But this is a small point, although Gabriel himself took exception to what Irving had written. In every way, this new translation and edition is an admirable one and will probably become the standard English text as opposed to Huntington’s (reissued in Thwaites’ Early Western Travels in 1966) until the Toronto Public Library sees fit, after seventy-seven years, to release the original manu­ script for republication. The book is up to the publisher’s high standard in bookmaking, with long-lasting paper, wide margins, and substantial binding. Dean Franchére’s edition should go far towards making his great­ grandfather’s story of the Astoria venture more widely known. Any reader who desires an account of what life was like along the Columbia over onehundred seventy-five years ago before other white men settled there or who desires an understanding of the wilderness and its primitive inhabitants and how the fur traders and trappers fared in that difficult region, not to mention how Astor won and lost in a daring gamble with man and nature, can ill afford to ignore this fascinating narrative. It is an enduring chronicle of the Pacific Northwest and of the energies certain men expended for economic gain, knowledge of the unknown, and adventure. E d g e le y W. T o d d , Colorado State University Words for Denver and Other Poems. By Thomas Hornsby Ferril. (New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1966. 86 pages. $4.50.) Thomas Hornsby Ferril’s Words for Denver and Other Poems contains some of his best and much of his weakest poetry. Inexplicably, this volume intensifies his virtues and exaggerates his faults. At his best he conveys with apparent effortlessness the simple truth. These lines open and close the sixth section of “Words of Denver”: Reviews 243 You didn’t know you came to make a city, Nobody knows when a city’s going to happen You sang together and you read out loud, Sparrows and churches came, There was elegant dust In the socket of the buggy whip on Sunday. Some of Ferril’s hard simplicities are reminiscent of those rare, wonderful poems of the young Hemingway or some of the best stark poetry of con­ temporary Latin America. Here is the whole of a poem called “Junipers”: I was crossing the Susquehanna River From Perryville to Havre de Grace Smelling the rainy junipers On Picacho Butte At Ash Fork, Arizona. And this poem, called “These Planks”: These planks that were a town Lie warping in the sun As if a barrel tumbled down the peaks Were shattered into staves. You always wish these wasted towns were older, It seems unreasonable for death to lack Experience and do so well so quickly. But all too often the poet succumbs to a fondness for a resounding but false conclusion: The fretful sly oblivions Of now Are on us by surprise. Far more frequently than in his earlier books, he unfortunately affects pointless archaisms like "ere” (or “e’r”) and “while there be now enough”; he forces in grace-words to achieve merely conventional rhythms, as in “now do we see those birds”; he constantly employs grammatical inversion like “why divides the air” and “deep are their eyes as pools.” Such a self-conscious convention­ ality might seem insincere. Moreover, his use of conventional classical allusions is far more persistent and rather less imaginative than in his earlier books. In the early thirties, Robert Frost estimated Ferril’s literarystature at "one mile,five-foot-ten.” Consider this nearly metaphysical opening of“Dia­ logue in Kansas—1850” from Westering: Some dim rememberer of quarter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 242-244
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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