A Cycle of the West


A Cycle of the West

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

A Bison Classic Edition

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

Bison Classic Editions Series

780 pages


August 2018


$44.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2018


$44.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2018


$44.95 Add to Cart

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.


"Republication of Neihardt's Cycle sets another high-water mark in the Press's long and distinguished catalog of books about the American West."—Daniel Simon, Nebraska History

“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 to the Bison Classic Annotated Edition, by Alan Birkelbach    
Annotator’s Note    
Introduction, by John G. Neihardt    
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 round . . .     
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    
Appendix: Prefaces    
Appendix: Errata    

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