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Editor's Note
This collection includes all the poems published after the early 1960s, and
selections from Stephens's fi rst two books, The Sum (1958) and Between
Matter and Principle
(1963). The selections are taken mostly from his own
choices for republication in In Plain Air (1982), and from an unpublished
manuscript he compiled in the late 1990's, titled Late in the Day.
The epigraph at the front of this book is taken from "Anniversary Se-
quence," a poem in The Sum.
The books are presented in reverse chronological order, for the most
part. The major exception is White River Poems (1976), which appears last;
its long narrative form sets it apart. Also, because Part I of Goodbye Matili-
(1992) is made up of poems that appeared in Water Among the Stones
(1987), the Water poems come fi rst, followed by Part II of Goodbye, then
the Stubble Burning poems that were published in the interim (1988).
Other changes in sequence were necessary to avoid duplication. The
poem "Three Studies from Two Days" in Away from the Road (1998) was
originally "Four Studies," including "An early spring day ..." from The
White Boat
(1995). The Stubble Burning chapbook included the Sopho-
cles lines in Away from the Road, a number of poems in The White Boat
("Martial of Bilbilis," "Old Man Afraid," "The Clubman," "The Morn-
ing of Glenn Gould's Funeral," "So-and-so Reassesses Yeats," "Professor
Bath's Talk on Shakespeare's Sonnets," "Geron the Heron"), and "To My
Matilija" in Water Among the Stones. In Plain Air included selections from
Tree Meditation and Others (1970), Between Matter and Principle, and The
. And Tree Meditation included versions of The Heat Lightning poems
(1967), except for "Second Evening" and "Unattended."
Stephens revised some of the poems that reappeared in later books
and in the Late in the Day manuscript. His revisions were always slight,
except for omissions from The Heat Lightning, a very limited edition,
when selections were republished in Tree Meditation. From all the vari-
ants, I have chosen what seemed to me the best versions, favoring the
originals when in doubt. In some poems, I accepted certain revisions but
not others.