Author and poet Jim Harrison, who penned the famous Legends of the Fall, died on Sunday in Patagonia, Arizona, according to CNN. He was 78 years old. According to The Guardian, how Harrison had died and his official cause of death has yet to be determined, but Morgan Entrekin, CEO of Harrison's publisher Grove Atlantic, revealed Sunday that the author had reportedly passed away at home, while working on a poem in his study.
Although Harrison initially launched his writing career as a poet, his incredible work eventually led him to publish works in nearly every genre. He published poetry, novels, essays, and even a children's book throughout his life, and was often compared to Ernest Hemingway. His best-known work was likely his novella on the American frontier, Legends of the Fall, which led to a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt in 1994.
Harrison was well-known for enjoying the little things in life — he was a foodie before the nickname even existed, he loved a good wine, and he marveled at the power of nature. He was known for conveying a wonder and respect for the natural world, and set his stories in grand, wild places. He also spoke in the past of how he approached writing with the same fervor, telling The New York Times:
You do manage a somewhat religious attitude toward your art. It is a calling rather than a job. I now find myself in an occasional state of surprise that I’ve made a living as a novelist for quite some time, the opposite of what I expected."
"It isn't easy when it's good," he once said, according to NPR. "It takes your whole life to do it."
Harrison once put pen to paper in 2007 to describe life and death in his poem "Water." It's a beautiful piece, written as Harrison looked back on his life, and the poem takes on extra significance today. In one snippet, Harrison wrote,
Before I was born I was water.
... Born man, child man, singing man,
dancing man, loving man, old man,
dying man. This is a round river
and we are her fish who become water.
Harrison's wife of 56 years passed away last October. He's survived by a brother and sister, his two daughters, and three grandchildren, according to The New York Times. His fans will likely look back on him as the "singing man, dancing man, loving man" who introduced them to the wilderness of North America and wrote simply — and more importantly, honestly.