A Cycle of the West, Bison Classic Annotated Edition

A Cycle of the West, Bison Classic Annotated Edition

The Song of Three Friends, The Song of Hugh Glass, The Song of Jed Smith, The Song of the Indian Wars, The Song of the Messiah

John G. Neihardt
Annotated by Joe Green
New introduction by Alan Birkelbach

726 pages


August 2018


$44.95 Pre-order

About the Book

A Cycle of the West rewards its readers with a sweeping saga of the American West and John G. Neihardt’s exhilarating vision of frontier history. It is infused with wonder, nostalgia, and a keen appreciation of epic history.

Unquestionably the masterpiece of the poet who has been called the “American Homer,” A Cycle of the West celebrates the land and legends of the Old West in five narrative poems: The Song of Three Friends (1919), The Song of Hugh Glass (1915), The Song of Jed Smith (1941), The Song of the Indian Wars (1925), and The Song of the Messiah (1935). This unforgettable epic of discovery, conquest, courage, and tragedy speaks movingly and resoundingly of a unique American experience. The new introduction by former Texas poet laureate Alan Birkelbach and annotations by Joe Green present fresh views of Neihardt’s iconic work.

Author Bio

John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) is the author of several classics, including Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition and Eagle Voice Remembers, both available in Bison Books editions. He was named Nebraska’s first poet laureate. Joe Green is a retired English teacher and member of the John G. Neihardt Foundation Board of Directors. Alan Birkelbach is the 2005 Poet Laureate of Texas. He is the author of eleven books of poetry and winner of the 2015 Spur Award for Best Western Poem from the Western Writers of America.


“A powerful succession of songs celebrating the experience of the frontier.”—Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping narrative told with poetic images as big as the great American West.”—Historical Novels Review

“Joe Green’s exhaustive annotations in this valuable new edition not only make John Neihardt’s powerful poems more accessible to twenty-first century readers they also draw attention to the depth of Neihardt’s own research into the period of American history that meant so much to him.”—Timothy G. Anderson, author of Lonesome Dreamer: The Life of John G. Neihardt

“Green’s remarkable work clarifies our understanding of John Neihardt’s epic poetic ode to the American West and reinforces its position as a literary masterpiece that will inform and inspire readers for generations to come.”—Amy Kucera, former executive director of the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site

Table of Contents

Introduction by Alan Birkelbach
The Song of Three Friends
Part I: Ashley’s Hundred
Part II: The Up-Stream Men
Part III: To the Musselshell
Part IV: The Net Is Cast
Part V: The Quarrel
Part VI: The Shooting of the Cup
Part VII: The Third Rider
Part VIII: Vengeance
The Song of Hugh Glass
Part I: Graybeard and Goldhair
Part II: The Awakening
Part III: The Crawl
Part IV: the Return of the Ghost
Part V: Jamie
The Song of Jed Smith
Part I: The valley was beginning to forget…
Part II: Now the Jug went around …
Part III: Now the deep…
Part IV: “You’re getting sober, Squire…”
Part V: Chin to chest and nodding…
Part VI: The low intoning of the canyon grew
The Song of the Indian Wars
Part I: The Sowing of the Dragon
Part II: Red Cloud
Part III: The Council on the Powder
Part IV: Fort Phil Kearny
Part V: Rubbed Out
Part VI: The Wagon Boxes
Part VII: Beecher’s Island
Part VIII: The Yellow God
Part IX: The Village of Crazy Horse
Part X: The Sun Dance
Part XI: The Seventh Marches
Part XII: High Noon on the Little Horn
Part XIII: The Twilight
Part XIV: The Death of Crazy Horse
The Song of the Messiah
Part I: The Voice in the Wilderness
Part II: The Coming of the Word
Part III: The Dance
Part IV: The Soldiers
Part V: Sitting Bull
Part VI: The Way
Part VII: Wounded Knee

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