…the book ..got one favorable review…I knew I had put my heart in it but people didn't seem to think I had because it was a long way from mesquite. It was up there in the middle of pine and spruce and water and trout, and nothing about sand and desert. So it was outside of what people expected me to write about…It was about a man that met the wrong girl…when he got home all beat up from the wars, and the wrong girl got him, and the mountains killed him. I had been reading some of the Greek writers about the structure of the drama and I tried to make the mountains like the gods who were handling human destiny. And I thought it was a good book and I still do, the old Primal Yoke.
You know, it's a bad thing for a writer or a painter to do something from his heart and then to have people not understand or care. I was very sad. I thought about a poem by A.E. Housman, I confess, sentimentally, when The Primal Yoke came out. It said, "I hoed and trenched and weeded,/And took the flowers to fair:/I brought them home unheeded; The hue was not the wear. So up and down I sow them/For lads like me to find/When I shall lie below them, A dead man out of mind."
Tom Lea talking to Adair Margo in Tom Lea, An Oral History, El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1995, pps. 112 – 114.