background image
Editor's Note
This selection is drawn from the Collected Poems, but also includes
a few of the unpublished poems Stephens circulated privately over
the years, and one that appeared only in a periodical. The arrange-
ment is chronological, for the most part. The unpublished poems are
grouped with their published contemporaries.
Diff erent versions of certain poems appeared in various books
and in a compilation Stephens made in the 1990's. The revisions
were always slight, except for omissions from The Heat Lightning
(1967), a very limited edition, when selections were republished in
Tree Meditation and Others (1970). From all the variants, I have cho-
sen what seemed to me the best versions, favoring the originals when
in doubt. In some poems, I accepted certain revisions but not others.
I made some changes in punctuation, spelling, and italicization,
but I have preserved Stephens's idiosyncratic use of single quotation
marks. In a few poems I revised phrasing a little, or deleted a word
or a short passage. These revisions were based on an early manu-
script (the sonnets "The Other Runner" and "... continued"), on

revisions Stephens penciled into his copy of Goodbye Matilija ("Dream
Vision," "After-words"), or on my judgment of what he would have
welcomed ("The Open World," "The Summer," "Elegy: The Old
Man," "Tree Meditation," "Thinking of Roethke," "Third Deposi-
tion," "And the Fat One ...," "Lion Camp," "Study of Wild Oats #2,"
"After- words," "The White Boat," "Under Cricket Music," "A Por-
trait"). In making that diffi
cult judgment, and in other respects, I was
glad to have the counsel of John Wilson, John Ridland, Tim Stephens,
Robyn Bell, Bob Blaisdell, and Jace Turner.
I thank Dan Stephens as well, for his brotherly support.
-- A.A.S.