1 minute read

John G. Neihardt (John Gneisenau Neihardt) Biography

(1881–1973), (John Gneisenau Neihardt), The Divine Enchantment, A Cycle of the West, Post-Dispatch

American poet, born near Sharpsburg, Illinois, brought up in Wayne, Nebraska and educated at Nebraska Normal College. He finished his first book, The Divine Enchantment (1900), when he was only 16 and started his major work, the five-part A Cycle of the West (1949), in 1912, after having spent the years from 1901 to 1907 collecting stories on the Omaha Indian Reservation. In 1921 he was declared Poet Laureate of Nebraska and in 1923 he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Nebraska. From 1926 to 1938 he was literary editor of the St Louis Post-Dispatch, during which time he recorded a series of conversations with Black Elk which were eventually published as Black Elk Speaks (1932). In 1936 the National Poetry Center awarded him its gold medal of honour, signifying that he was the foremost poet of the nation. From 1949 to 1965 he was poet in residence and lecturer in English at the University of Missouri. Neihardt's poetry is relatively conventional in form, but its content reveals a profoundly mystical sense of the world which has much in common with Native American thought and religious observance; though his mysticism predated his contact with them, Native Americans provided him with concrete, living examples of mysticism in action, as well as a tragic history of neglect and abuse.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France