Link this with James Still's River of Earth as the first novel of a poet, sprung from frontier sources, regional material that is warp and woof of our land. I have had an eye on Stuart since the thrill of discovery on reading Man With a Bull Tongue Plow. Since then he has strengthened his position as a poet and added to his reputation with an autobiography. Now comes this novel, with the rhythm of folk ballads in the telling and a deep sense of unity with the soil of his beloved Kentucky. There is a secondary significance, in his presentation of the relations of owners, squatters and share croppers, but it is fundamentally a story of human emotions, in the romance of the owner's son and the squatter's daughter. There are moments of sheer beauty of writing -- there are other moments of crudity which somehow does not mar the whole. The wood cuts by Woody Ishmael are keyed to the quality of the text.