Album of Destiny
Hardcover. Limited Edition
Stuart labored eleven years over Album of Destiny, The idea for this work came to him in 1932 as he idly turned through the pages of an old family album which contained pictures of his youthful mother and father, posing before apple trees in bloom. Later pictures showed them worn and aged, and Stuart thought how he who was now young and in the vigor of his life must complete the same cycle that his parents had gone through. Then the idea came to him for a volume in which he would show a group of people through the four seasons of life. He first planned to do this with a hundred people, but soon cut the number to fifty. He planned four portraits to correspond to the four seasons of life, followed by a section in which the children of these people would speak and write, thus accomplishing a kind of physical resurrection of their parents' lives.
He began to write poetry for this volume in the 1930s. Before he was through he had written two thousand poems. All were extensively revised (some as much as ten times); after systematic culling, four hundred and twenty-three were published in 1944. His intention was to show his little mountain community as a microcosm of the great world. In this sense Album of Destiny is akin to Walt Whitman's Song of Myself and to the famous Spoon River Anthology by Stuart's friend, Edgar Lee Masters.