Introduction by A. Norman Jeffares
During the past decades there has been a substantial body of bibliographical, critical and biographical material published testifying to Stephens' significance as poet, novelist, essayist, and short story writer. There has been an edition of his Letters by Richard J. Finneran (1974) and a two volume Uncollected Prose edited by Patricia McFate (1983). In addition, some of his prose works have been reprinted (The Crock of Gold; Irish Fairy Tales; Deirdre and The Insurrection in Dublin are presently listed by Amazon.co.uk), so a volume of Stephens' poetry is long overdue.
At the present time it is virtually impossible to locate any volume of Stephens’ poetry outside a library. In the case of his Collected Poems (1954), even if one finds a copy, it is difficult to evaluate the poet's progress, influences, or interests at any given period since the poems are arranged thematically under charming but elusive titles which, for the most part, tell nothing about the contents or period of their composition, although we are at least fortunate that the last three books in that volume are chronologically arranged. Furthermore, over one hundred poems published in volumes, in magazines, or newspapers were omitted from the Collected Poems. A complete chronological collection of James Stephens' poetry is therefore necessary if readers are to be encouraged to enjoy and study his work in depth, and that is what the present editor provides.
This volume contains more than 320 poems by Stephens, a biographical and critical introduction by A. Norman Jeffares (his last work before his death in 2005), as well as notes, indexes to titles and first lines, and an Appendix listing those poems that appeared in the 1954 Collected Poems. It is an essential adjunct to the library of every lover of Irish poetry.