Paperback Price: $12.95
Paperback ISBN: 0-914086-20-0

Selected Poem

July 25, 1846, along the Big Sandy.

Thus we scatter as we go along
the arid stretches are so dry
the hills are so steep
that we must constantly tar
and mend the wheels

it would have been better
not to bring
any baggage whatever
only what is necessary
to use on the way

if I were to make this journey again
I would make quite different preparations
to pack and unpack so many times
and to cross so many streams

the custom of the mountain men
is to possess nothing
and then you will lose nothing.

Tamsen Donner

“Ruth Whitman has recreated the journal that Tamsen Donner lost on her nightmarish journey to California in 1846. With a grant from the National Endowment, Whitman traveled along the route of the Donner party, keeping her own diary and watching the American landscape unfold as it did to the eyes of a ninteenth-century New Englander. The journal, transforming historical fact into poetic insight, is a testimony to the optimism, dogged survival, integrity and courage of a woman pioneer.”
—Janet Falon, The Boston Globe

“A work of beauty and force…a major achievement.”

“Ruth Whitman is a poet whose language takes on the harsh beauty of the land Donner crosses towards California in 1846…This is Tamsen’s journey, the journey that now draws us to Whitman’s luminous retelling.”
The Boston Globe


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