Date of Award

Spring 1980

Document Type



Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Jack Semmens

Second Advisor

Robert Swartout

Third Advisor

Henry Burgess


John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) was, unquestionably, a rare individual. He was a mystic, a devoted poet, and an intellectual while competently and contentedly living most of his life amid a prairie society which seldom inspired and never encouraged such impractical pursuits. In addition, he was able to develop a well ordered system of integrated spiritual, social, and literary philosophies during a period of general turbulence. For his notable achievements, he has gained some recognition over the years. Among those who have expressed admiration for his work, either publicly or through personal letters to the poet, are Edward Arlington Robinson, Carl Jung, George Sterling, George Edward Woodberry, Clarence Darrow, Harry Truman, and John Elaf Boodin. Even an ailing Mark Twain once arranged to meet Neihardt. In 1921, the Nebraska legislature officially proclaimed Neihardt as the Poet Laureate of the state of Nebraska (he was the first poet in America to gain such an honor) and, in 1968, instituted a statewide Neihardt Day.