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Smoke from This Altar

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  352 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Smoke From This Altar, a book that has become legendary among Louis L'Amour readers, is the very first book L'Amour ever published. It appeared, to great critical praise, for sale only in Oklahoma bookstores more than fifty years ago. Since then it has become the most sought-after L'Amour title of all, with the few circulating copies from the small print run commanding top ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 1st 1990 by Bantam (first published 1939)
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3.98  · 
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 ·  352 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If there's one thing L'Amour excels at as a writer, it is his gift for describing nature. And, since the vast majority of these poems are odes to nature's beauty, SMOKE ON THE ALTAR winds up being way better than you'd expect from a guy who made his career on penning pulp westerns. Here, there are no cliche characterizations to get on your nerves, no bad dialog, and no predictable plotting or cheesy romance.
In fact, this book is very well done, and it's a shame L'Amour never wrote another like i
Margaret King
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This collection reminds me of a coyote Shakespeare singing under the desert stars.

What a unique little treasure: before Louis L'Amour became a Western genre sensation, he published this slim volume of poems, available only in a few Oklahoma bookstores, in 1939. It was written during the author's years of sailing, acting, "sideshow barking," and various other jobs he did that took him all across the globe. Largely rhyming poems and sonnets, these pieces are almost all about wandering the globe, t
C. Hollis Crossman
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I never thought I'd find a volume by Louis L'Amour in the poetry section of the library unless it was mis-shelved. Having been proved wrong, I certainly didn't expect to enjoy what I found there, or for the poems to be good. Thank God for wonder and surprises.

L'Amour's poems aren't great, but most of them are pretty good, and a few are even very good. This was apparently the first book he published, after having wandered the world as a sailor, soldier and boxer from the age of fifteen.

Most of th
Trish Boese
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
3* I was thrilled to find this poetry collection by Louis L'Amour. I don't like all of the poems, but a few of them I really love.
Sara Diane
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry fan
Shelves: 2011, reviewed, poetry
I picked this up more out of curiosity rather than interest, but I'm glad I did. L'Amour has a lovely way with words. Even if he's a bit too formal and structured for my everyday taste, he had some wonderful lines, and a few absolute gems in this collection. It was easy to see that the poems collected at the end (not in the original publication) were not as polished as the rest, but considering his wife added those after his death, it's not a big surprise.

A fantastic collection of poetry
Rogue-van (the Bookman)
L'Amour transports you into the lonely and beautiful places he has visited in these poems. They show his facility with words and his love of the frontier. The mystery in nature is only partly received by a heart that is reaching out, seeking, calling, wandering. I'm not really into poetry, but I think Thoreau would have appreciated these.
Brent M.  Jones
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018

Louis L'Amour's wife, Kathy, wrote an introduction for this book which was, in 1939, his first published book, and it contains many of what L'Amour considered to be his best poems.
She said of that time, that "poetry was the expression of Louis' most important thoughts and feelings. It was the first manner in which he wrote about his life, his views, and the places he had seen."

His poetry received high praise. A poem he had published in the Daily Oklahoma, "Banked Fires", was commented on by the
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have never read this author before, and I was surprised at how good his poetry is! Most of it is on a topic that's not personally interesting to me, but much of it was humorous, or heartfelt, or a witty observation, and I really enjoyed it!
Wilson E. Stevens Sr.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle
This is some of the Poetry written by Louis L'Amour. He started his writing career writing poetry, and then turned to stories. While some of his poetry is nice, and I enjoyed it, I am not a poetry lover so rated the book very low.
Raquel Evans
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
One of the few books of poetry I've actually enjoyed. There's an interesting range of kinds of poems, which also means I only like most of them, but overall, enjoyable.
Beautifully written. He totally wooed me several times at least. For all who are moved by poetry, I recommend this.
Christine Norvell
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A gentle read that contains simple melodic lines often in sonnet or quatrain form describing travel and landscape. I love that it was published in 1939 before L'Amour's novel career began in earnest.
P.S. Winn
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Hard to find book because it was the author's first. Luckily my dad had an old, dog eared copy.
Manuel Sanchez
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, western
This is a book that has become legendary among Louis L'Amour readers - the very first book he ever published (poetry). He remains the only novelist in American history to receive both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books consisted primarily of Western novels (though he called his work 'frontier stories'), however he also wrote historical fiction (The Walking Drum), science fiction (The Haunted Mesa), nonfiction (Frontier), as well as poetry and short-stor ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetree
Interestingly, this was L'Amour's first published book, and his only book of poetry. Most of the poems are naturalist in content- concerning the sea, seasons, land regions, and skies. There are a few humorous ones like the one where he writes of how frustrating it is that people often mispronounce his name. I read a few to my son and he liked them also, especially "A Handful of Stars."
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
background on me as a reader: I am not a poetry expert and I've actually not read anything else by Louis L'Amour. there were things I enjoyed about some of the poems (most especially observations of nature), but in general this was just not a collection suited to my tastes??
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoy the imagery of Louis L'Amour's writing. As a teenager I read most of his westerns and didn't realize his first book was poetry until much later. I especially like a Handful of Stars and My Three Friends.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers
Recommended to Wendy by: Amy Cook
Shelves: poetry-prose, favs
This book was a surprise to read, no doubt! I was expecting that I'd get something of the western fiction out of it, and was skeptical, but I was very pleased to find the poetry as mournful and beautiful as it was! This is a must read for anyone who wants to be pleasantly surprised.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Sophomoric at times but does give a nice sense of the world and philosophy of L'lamour.
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
There are flashes of brilliance--a line here and there--but a little over-sentimental for my tastes. Not too bad, but not my favorite. I was actually surprised that L'Amour did more than Westerns.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People interested in the outdoors, those that like poetry
An amazing book of poetry from a man that lived many lives and experienced many places.
Kent Barlow
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
ive had this book for at least 20 years and everytime i go back to it i am inspired. its a poetic little brother to thoreaus walden in that it motivates me to really live.
Aug 07, 2012 added it
A lot of the poems in this book give a more accurate depiction of what it's like on the ocean than anything else I have read.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: of-poetry, real-world
I am happy to find that L'Amour's descriptive skills as seen in his Western novels translate well into his poetry.
Fredrick Danysh
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of poetry from the masterful writer of westerns, Louis L'Amour. His poetry covers a variety of topics and are fun to read.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Read My Three Friends! Beauty, humor, dark and bright.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is not one of my favorite books of poetry but I grew up a fan of Louis L'Amour and had to try it. He is a very good poet and I enjoyed it!
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a good book, but it isn't my favorite of the Louis L'Amour books. I do recommend this book to anyone that is interested in a good read.
Ashton Widdison
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
There were so many excellent poems with beautiful use of language. I envy the talent of Louis L'Amour, from his novels to his poetry.
Feb 28, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-new
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Louis L'Amour was an American author. L'Amour's books, primarily Western fiction, remain enormously popular, and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death all 101 of his works were in print (86 novels, 14 short-story collections and one full-length work of nonfiction) and he was considered "one of the world's most popular writers".