John Brown's Body established a high standard of historical verse. Had he lived to complete his plan of a long narrative poem dealing with westward migrations, Benet would have given American literature one of its greatest works. This volume was to be its first part. Once again, as in John Brown's Body, he has succeeded in giving history and the pattern of people the sweep only such verse as his could lend. In form he moulds his rhythms to his subject. There is less variety, perhaps, than in John Brown's Body, there are fewer peaks of superb verse, stirring action, challenging philosophy. But the spirit of an old world, torn with dissension is here; the groping towards a new world, which would stand for the right to live and believe as the pioneers wanted, is here. The ""story"" traces the beginnings, -- Jamestown, Roanoke, Plymouth. The characters and incidents are drawn from the sources. The spirit that is America is caught in his words.