In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 231 titles have had large reprintings. Thus—for all of this little book’s historical import, situational unity, and editorial assertion (“what appears in this text is the essential Waters”) — today’s reader/buyer might wish that Milton had included one latter-day powpow— to bridge that seven-year gap and sharpen perspective. MARTIN BUCCO, Colorado State University All Is But A Beginning. By John G. Neihardt. Introduction by Dick Cavett. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972. 173 pages, $5.95.) Dr. John G. Neihardt, now past ninety-two, author of more than twenty books and poet laureate of Nebraska as well as the recipient of many honors, has written the story of his boyhood from the time of his birth to the time of his first school teaching experience and his burning of his first masterpiece, The Divine Enchantment, at age 19. If anyone has the idea that poets are made by growing up in ivory towers, Dr. Neihardt’s story will correct that view. Although through the mists of memory he sees everything with compassion, the reader is bound to realize that he grew up amid poverty and disappointment. Aware as he is of the failure of his father to make a good living, he never lets that fact dim the love he feels for his father; and when, after a bitter quarrel with the mother and an absence of several days, the father comes back to the house and does not gain admission, but goes out into the night never to return, it is little John who rushes to the door and calls goodbye and hears the echo of goodbye. Even the final separation does not diminish John’s love, and he takes great pride in the memory of his father’s physical prowess and his knowledge of intellectual things, although he is a man without education. The family moves from place to place so rapidly that the small John loses track of the places and the times, but always he has his steadfast mother in the background keeping things together. Moments of sorrow mingle with bursts of joy. Early he showed a remarkable memory and some of the experiences from five years of age on, he uses later in his Cycle of the West. Sensitive, alert, he misses nothing of the life around him. One of the most poignant scenes in the book is his visit back to the old home of his grandparents in Stockton, Kansas. Little is left but a mound where the sod house stood and a caved in place for grandma’s cellar where she churned and from which came such rich buttermilk. But in his mind he recon­ structs the grandfather with his twinkling blue eyes and his skill with the black­ smith’s tools. For a little while he dreams back the memories, but something is lost. “This time as I pass through the gate, I close it gently and wire it firmly shut, wondering why I should take the trouble. Surely there is nothing on the inside wanting out, and nothing on the outside wanting in. But it seems, some­ how, the way you close the door of a quiet room where someone dear is sleeping and greatly needs the rest.” 232 Western American Literature Such is the tone of his memories as he looks back on his childhood of over eighty-five years ago. Always he has the ability to see beauty in everything, if not humor. Once with his father he comes upon a sunlighted clearing. “And in the center thereof a single wild crab-apple tree was blooming gloriously. I remember how we stood still there for quite a while, just looking. It seemed we were having an adventure somehow.” The vision of the tree reminds one of the tree that grows in the center of Dr. Neihardt’s prayer garden, and seems a preview of his ever growing view of the universe. Despite the hardship of his growing years—the years when he can’t find a job and has to ride the freights and ask for handouts, he never loses the feeling that something greater is just ahead. Until he is twelve...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 231-233
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.