William S. Trout (1909-1980) lived all of his life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he taught in the public schools and later at a local state college and wrote more than 800 poems, none of which he sought to publish. In this cultural and intellectual biography of a shy and reclusive teacher-poet, which includes 170 of his poems, Zeller has created a sensitive and insightful exploration of Trout's life and verse.
Although primarily a lyric poet, Trout wrote in a variety of forms, including sonnets, free verse, and story poems. The richness of his imagery makes him as much a poet of the eye as of the ear. He is a contemplative poet, one of solitude and reflection who values understanding over action. While his poetry is rooted in wide-ranging intellectual interests and the experience of living in a small rural community, it is his sensitivity to feelings and intuition that accounts for his ability to create that distillate of emotion that is the essence of good poetry. His imagination, and the influence of Carl Jung, the "father" of analytical psychology, takes his verse beyond literal reality and at times into the realm of the unconscious. Trout's poems are about place and time; about family and friends; about illness, age, and death; about his views on politics and society; about exploring the natural world and the landscapes of the mind.