Dear Mr. Woodberry: -

At most I did not expect more than a line or two from you; and here I have a delightful letter to cherish!

It is good to read your glowing words about my country, and I fully share your feelings. Did not "The Ride" grow out of your Nebraska experience?

Please forgive me if I seem overbold in wishing to reply to some of your implied queries. I do not feel far from anywhere, and "Rome" lacks much that I have here in abundance. I have deliberately chosen to be here, for I have so far been able to control my life. Book reviewing makes my living and keeps me sensitive to the main tendencies of world-thought. A large garden makes a small income sufficient, and I know how to carry the the ​ Greek world into the potato patch with me. Lonesome? All the great ones are here with me. I am Socratically poor, and therefore very rich indeed. Early in life I learned that by going fast one overtakes nothing and that by going far nothing is found; also, that once one has gained the physical necessities, nothing at all is worth a struggle save the things of the spirit. And God knows I'm not a mollycoddle! I have a life philosophy & live it. There is at least one reasonably happy man in the world.

You say that some day you may find my books and read them. Let me send you two of them now. If you ever read "The Quest" (my collected lyrics), please read the prefatory note before you begin on the rest. You will not begin to find the present me until somewhere in the middle of the volume.

But the other book really represents my life purpose as I see it now. I am writing the epic cycle of our own Northwest, and "Hugh Glass" is the second in a series of five poems. The first, entitled "The Song of Three Friends", is nearly completed & will appear next Spring. The other three are carefully planned & are to be called "The Song of Jed Smith", "The Song of the Last Rendezvous", and "The Song of the Sioux Wars".

The period dealt with in this cycle is our great epic period at its height, and the Fur Traders' conquest of our West was the last episode of the Aryan invasion of the world. So, at least, it seems to me.

I had worked steadily at verse for twenty years before I considered my self ready for the task, which was begun three years ago. Seven more years of work are ahead of me.

This is a young man's letter to a Master. My loquacity will be forgiven.

With all good wishes,


Jno. G. Neihardt