Gunslinger constitutes one of the most significant, and underacknowledged, poetic achievements of the last half of the twentieth century. Written during the years 1967-1974, the poem reacts with intelligence and humor to the varying moods of its complex times. This study - the first critical discussion of the entire narrative poem - explores the poet's treatment of life in the sixties. The author argues that
Gunslinger is best read as a reaction to the state of the nation in the 1960s. The poem chronicles the rise and fall of the counterculture and provides a running commentary on the noble aspirations and pretensions of the revolutionary counterculture.