The Full Wiki

Robinson Jeffers: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, July 9, 1937
Born January 10, 1887(1887-01-10)
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Died January 20, 1962 (aged 75)
Carmel, California
Occupation Poet and Environmentalist

John Robinson Jeffers (January 10, 1887 – January 20, 1962) was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Most of Jeffers' poetry was written in classic narrative and epic form, but today he is also known for his short verse, and considered an icon of the environmental movement.

Contents

Life

Jeffers was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh), the son of a Presbyterian minister and biblical scholar, Reverend Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers, and Annie Robinson Tuttle. His brother was Hamilton Jeffers, who became a well-known astronomer, working at Lick Observatory. His family was supportive of his interest in poetry. He traveled through Europe during his youth and attended school in Switzerland. He was a child prodigy, interested in classics and Greek and Latin language and literature. At sixteen he entered Occidental College. At school, he was an avid outdoorsman, and active in the school's literary society.

After he graduated from Occidental, Jeffers went to the University of Southern California to study medicine. He met Una Call Kuster in 1906; she was three years his senior, a graduate student, and the wife of a Los Angeles attorney. In 1910, he enrolled as a forestry student at the University of Washington in Seattle, a course of study that he abandoned after less than one year, at which time he returned to Los Angeles. Sometime before this, he and Una had begun an affair that became a scandal, reaching the front page of the Los Angeles Times in 1912. After Una spent some time in Europe to quiet things down, the two were married in 1913, and moved to Carmel, California, where Jeffers constructed Tor House and Hawk Tower. The couple had a daughter who died a day after birth in 1914, and then twin sons in 1916. Una died of cancer in 1950. Jeffers died in 1962; an obituary can be found in the New York Times, January 22, 1962.

Poetic career

Hawk Tower in Carmel,
Photo by Celeste Davison

In the 1920s and 1930s, at the height of his popularity, Jeffers was famous for being a tough outdoorsman, living in relative solitude and writing of the difficulty and beauty of the wild. He spent most of his life in Carmel, California, in a granite house that he had built himself called "Tor House and Hawk Tower". Tor is a Celtic term describing a large outcropping of rock. Before Jeffers and Una purchased the land where Tor House would be built, they rented a small cottage in Carmel, and enjoyed many afternoon walks and picnics at the "tors" near the site that would become Tor House.

To build the first part of Tor House, a small, two story cottage, Jeffers hired a local builder. He worked with the builder,and in this short, informal apprenticeship, he learned the art of stonemasonry. He continued adding on to Tor House throughout his life, writing in the mornings and working on the house in the afternoon. Many of his poems reflect the influence of stone and building on his life.

He later built a large four-story stone tower on the site called Hawk Tower, based on similar structures he had seen while traveling through Ireland. Construction on Tor House continued into the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was completed by his eldest son. The completed residence was used as a family home until his descendants decided to turn it over to the Tor House Foundation, formed by Ansel Adams, for historic preservation. The romantic Gothic tower was named after a hawk that appeared while Jeffers was working on the structure, and which disappeared the day it was completed. The tower was a gift for his wife Una, who had a fascination for Irish literature and stone towers. In Una's special room at the top were kept many of her favorite items, photographs of Jeffers taken by the artist Weston, plants and dried flowers from Shelley's grave, and a rosewood melodeon which she loved to play. The tower also included a secret interior staircase -- a source of great fun for his young sons.

During this time Jeffers published volumes of long narrative blank verse that shook up the national literary scene. These poems, including Tamar and Roan Stallion, introduced Jeffers as a master of the epic form, reminiscent of ancient Greek poets. These poems were full of controversial subject matter like incest, murder and parricide. Jeffers' short verse includes "Hurt Hawks", "The Purse-Seine", and "Shine, Perishing Republic". His intense relationship with the physical world is described in often brutal and apocalyptic verse, and demonstrates a preference for the natural world over what he sees as the negative influence of civilization. Jeffers did not accept the idea that meter is a fundamental part of poetry, and, like Marianne Moore, claimed his verse was not composed in meter, but "rolling stresses". He believed meter was imposed on poetry by man, not a fundamental part of its nature.

Robinson Jeffers U.S. postage stamp - 1973

Initially, Tamar and Other Poems received no acclaim, but when East Coast reviewers discovered the work and began to compare Jeffers to Greek tragedians, Boni & Liveright reissued an expanded edition as Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems (1925). In these works, Jeffers began to articulate themes that contributed to what he later identified as Inhumanism. Mankind was too self-centered, he complained, and too indifferent to the "astonishing beauty of things". Jeffers's longest and most ambitious narrative, The Women at Point Sur (1927), startled many of his readers, heavily loaded as it was with Nietzschean philosophy. The balance of the 1920s and the early 1930s were especially productive for Jeffers, and his reputation was secure. In 1934, he made the acquaintance of the philosopher J Krishnamurti and was struck by the force of Krishnamurti's person. He wrote a poem entitled "Credo" which many feel refers to Krishnamurti. In Cawdor and Other Poems (1928), Dear Judas and Other Poems (1929), Descent to the Dead, Poems Written in Ireland and Great Britain (1931), Thurso's Landing (1932), and Give Your Heart to the Hawks (1933), Jeffers continued to explore the questions of how human beings could find their proper relationship (free of human egocentrism) with the divinity of the beauty of things. These poems, set in the Big Sur region (except Dear Judas and Descent to the Dead), enabled Jeffers to pursue his belief that the natural splendor of the area demanded tragedy: the greater the beauty, the greater the demand. As Euripides had, Jeffers began to focus more on his own characters' psychologies and on social realities than on the mythic. The human dilemmas of Phaedra, Hippolytus, and Medea fascinated him.

Publishers' disclaimer included with Double Axe and Other Poems

Many books followed Jeffers' initial success with the epic form, including an adaptation of Euripides' Medea, which became a hit Broadway play starring Dame Judith Anderson. D. H. Lawrence, Edgar Lee Masters, Benjamin De Casseres, and George Sterling were close friends of Jeffers, Sterling having the longest and most intimate relationship with him. While living in Carmel, Jeffers became the focal point for a small but devoted group of admirers. At the peak of his fame, he was one of the few poets to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. He was also asked to read at the Library of Congress, and was posthumously put on a U.S. Stamp.

Part of the decline of Jeffers popularity was due to his staunch opposition to the United States' entering World War II. In fact, his book The Double Axe and Other Poems (1948), a volume of poems that was largely critical of U.S. policy, came with an extremely unconventional note from Random House that the views expressed by Jeffers were not those of the publishing company. Soon after, his work was received negatively by several influential literary critics. Several particularly scathing pieces were penned by Yvor Winters, as well as by Kenneth Rexroth, who had been very positive in his earlier commentary on Jeffers' work. Jeffers would publish poetry intermittently during the 1950s but his poetry never again attained the same degree of popularity that it had in the 1920s and the 1930s. Some expect a revival in Jeffers' work in the near future, especially with the 2001 publication of his collected poems by Stanford University Press and the rising popularity of ecocriticism in literary theory.

Advertisements

Inhumanism

Jeffers was an advocate for inhumanism, the belief that mankind is too self-centered and too indifferent to the "astonishing beauty of things." Articulated in the first half of the 1900s, inhumanism views that humans may strive, but will always be unable to "uncenter" themselves. Furthermore Inhumanism called for "a shifting of emphasis and significance from man to notman; the rejection of human solipsism and recognition of the transhuman magnificence.... This manner of thought and feeling is neither misanthropic nor pessimist.... It offers a reasonable detachment as rule of conduct, instead of love, hate and envy.... it provides magnificence for the religious instinct, and satisfies our need to admire greatness and rejoice in beauty." [1]

Influence

His poems have been translated into many languages and published all over the world. Outside of the United States he is most popular in Japan and the Czech Republic. William Everson, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, and Mark Jarman are just a few recent authors who have been influenced by Jeffers. Charles Bukowski remarked that Jeffers was his favorite poet. Polish poet Czesław Miłosz also took an interest in Jeffers' poetry and worked as a translator for several volumes of his poems. Jeffers also exchanged some letters with his Czech translator and popularizer, the poet Kamil Bednář.

Jeffers was an inspiration and friend to western U.S. photographers of the early twentieth century, including Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

Although Jeffers has largely been marginalized in the mainstream academic community over the last thirty years, several important contemporary literary critics, including Albert Gelpi of Stanford University, and poet, critic and NEA chairman Dana Gioia, have consistently cited Jeffers as a formidable presence in modern literature.

His poem "The Beaks of Eagles" was made into a song by The Beach Boys on their album Holland (1973).

Two lines from Jeffers' poem "We Are Those People" are quoted toward the end of the 2008 film Visioneers.

Further reading and research

The largest collections of Jeffers' manuscripts and materials are in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin and in the libraries at Occidental College, the University of California, and Yale University. A collection of his letters has been published as The Selected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, 1887–1962 (1968). Other books of criticism and poetry by Jeffers are: Poetry, Gongorism and a Thousand Years (1949), Themes in My Poems (1956), Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems (1965), The Alpine Christ and Other Poems (1974), What Odd Expedients" and Other Poems (1981), and Rock and Hawk: A Selection of Shorter Poems by Robinson Jeffers (1987).

Stanford University Press recently released a five-volume collection of the complete works of Robinson Jeffers. In an article titled, "A Black Sheep Joins the Fold", written upon the release of the collection in 2001, Stanford Magazine commented that it was remarkable that, due to a number of circumstances, "there was never an authoritative, scholarly edition of California’s premier bard"[2] until the complete works published by Stanford.

Biographical studies include George Sterling, Robinson Jeffers: The Man and the Artist (1926); Louis Adamic, Robinson Jeffers (1929); Melba Bennett, Robinson Jeffers and the Sea (1936) and The Stone Mason of Tor House (1966); Edith Greenan, Of Una Jeffers (1939); Mabel Dodge Luhan, Una and Robin (1976; written in 1933); Ward Ritchie, Jeffers: Some Recollections of Robinson Jeffers (1977); and James Karman, Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California (1987). Books about Jeffers's career include L. C. Powell, Robinson Jeffers: The Man and His Work (1940; repr. 1973); William Everson, Robinson Jeffers: Fragments of an Older Fury (1968); Arthur B. Coffin, Robinson Jeffers: Poet of Inhumanism (1971); James Karman, ed., Critical Essays on Robinson Jeffers (1990); Alex Vardamis The Critical Reputation of Robinson Jeffers (1972); and Robert Zaller, ed., Centennial Essays for Robinson Jeffers (1991). The Robinson Jeffers Newsletter, ed. Robert Brophy, is a valuable scholarly resource.

Jeffers Studies, a journal of research on the poetry of Robinson Jeffers and related topics, is published semi-annually by the Robinson Jeffers Association.

Quotations

  • "There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that cultures decay, and life's end is death" (The Purse-Seine, 1937)
  • "Long live freedom and damn the ideologies" (The Stars Go over the Lonely Ocean 1940)
  • "Corruption never has been compulsory; when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains" (Shine, Perishing Republic, 1941)
  • "I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk" (Hurt Hawks, 1926)
  • "Death's a fierce meadowlark: but to die having made / Something more equal to the centuries / Than muscle and bone, is mostly to shed weakness." (Wise Men In Their Bad Hours)

Bibliography

  • Flagons and Apples. Los Angeles: Grafton, 1912.
  • Californians. New York: Macmillan, 1916.
  • Tamar and Other Poems. New York: Peter G. Boyle, 1924.
  • Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925.
  • The Women at Point Sur. New York: Liveright, 1927.
  • Cawdor and Other Poems. New York: Liveright, 1928.
  • Dear Judas and Other Poems. New York: Liveright, 1929.
  • Thurso's Landing and Other Poems. New York: Liveright, 1932.
  • Give Your Heart to the Hawks and other Poems. New York: Random House, 1933.
  • Solstice and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1935.
  • Such Counsels You Gave To me and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1937.
  • The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers. New York: Random House, 1938.
  • Be Angry at the Sun. New York: Random House, 1941.
  • Medea. New York: Random House, 1946.
  • The Double Axe and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1948.
  • Hungerfield and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1954.
  • The Beginning and the End and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1963.
  • Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems. New York: Vintage, 1965.

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Long live freedom and damn the ideologies.

John Robinson Jeffers (1887-01-101962-01-20) was an American poet.

Sourced

Standing on that peak
Above the blinding clouds of prejudice,
Would we could see all truly as it is;
The calm eternal truth would keep us meek.
There is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
that watched before there was an ocean.
I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole.
I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things by making one's own life and environment beautiful, as far as one's power reaches.
  • O that our souls could scale a height like this,
    A mighty mountain swept o'er by the bleak
    Keen winds of heaven
    ; and, standing on that peak
    Above the blinding clouds of prejudice,
    Would we could see all truly as it is;
    The calm eternal truth would keep us meek.
    • A Hill-Top View (1904); This is one of his earliest poems, printed in the the Aurora, a student publication of Occidental College.
  • The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
    life is your child, but there is in me
    Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
    that watched before there was an ocean.
    • "Continent's End" in Tamar and Other Poems (1924)
  • Mother, though my song's measure is like your surf-beat's
    ancient rhythm I never learned it of you.
    Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both
    our tones flow from the older fountain.
    • "Continent's End" in Tamar and Other Poems (1924)
  • Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you fore-defeated
    Challengers of oblivion
    Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
    The square-limbed Roman letters
    Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain.
  • Happy people die whole, they are all dissolved in a moment,
    they have had what they wanted
    • "Post Mortem" in The Women at Point Sur (1927)
  • I have seen these ways of God: I know of no reason
    For fire and change and torture and the old returnings.
    • "Apology for Bad Dreams" in The Women at Point Sur (1927)
Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try
One grass-blade's curve...
  • I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole. (This is physics, I believe, as well as religion.) The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars, none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole. This whole is in all its parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it and to think of it as divine. It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of the deeper sort of love and there is peace, freedom, I might say a kind of salvation, in turning one's affections outward toward this one God, rather than inwards on one's self, or on humanity, or on human imaginations and abstractions — the world of spirits.
    I think it is our privilege and felicity to love God for his beauty, without claiming or expecting love from him. We are not important to him, but he to us.
    • Letter to Sister Mary James Power (1 October 1934); published in The Wild God of the World : An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers (2003), edited by Albert Gelpi, p. 189; also partly quoted in the essay "Robinson Jeffers, Pantheist Poet" by John Courtney
Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
One color, one glinting flash, of the splendor of things.
  • I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things by making one's own life and environment beautiful, as far as one's power reaches.This includes moral beauty, one of the qualities of humanity, though it seems not to appear elsewhere in the universe. But I would have each person realize that his contribution is not important, its success not really a matter for exultation nor its failure for mourning; the beauty of things is sufficient without him.
    (An office of tragic poetry is to show that there is beauty in pain and failure as much as in success and happiness.)
    • Letter to Sister Mary James Power (1 October 1934); published in The Wild God of the World : An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers (2003), edited by Albert Gelpi, p. 189 - 190
  • I hate my verses, every line, every word.
    Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try
    One grass-blade's curve, or the throat of one bird
    That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky.

    Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
    One color, one glinting flash, of the splendor of things.
    • "Love the Wild Swan" (1935)
At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
  • This wild swan of a world is no hunter's game.
    Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast
    Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame.
    Does it matter whether you hate your . . . self?
    At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
    Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
    • "Love the Wild Swan" (1935)
Know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful.
  • Then what is the answer? — Not to be deluded by dreams.
    To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence, and their tyrants come, many times before.
    When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
    To keep one's own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not wish for evil; and not be duped
    By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will not be fulfilled.
    • "The Answer" (1936)
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man
Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions...
  • Know that however ugly the parts appear
    the whole remains beautiful.
    A severed hand
    Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
    and his history... for contemplation or in fact...
    Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness,
    the greatest beauty is
    Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
    of the universe. Love that, not man
    Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions,
    or drown in despair when his days darken.
    • "The Answer" (1936)
  • There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that cultures decay, and life's end is death.
    • "The Purse-Seine" (1937)
Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
  • You ask what I am for and what I am against in Spain. I would give my right hand of course to prevent the agony; I would not give a flick of my little finger to help either side win.
    • Response in a pamphlet Writers Take Sides : Letters About the War in Spain from 418 American Authors (1938) by the American Writers League, which asked various authors: "Are you for or are you against Franco and fascism?".
  • Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
    The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel,
    formerly used to kill men, but here
    In the sense of a symbol.
    • "Contemplation of The Sword" (1938)
  • Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred
    stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries
    And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this
    thing comes near us again I am finding it hard
    To praise you with a whole heart.
    • "Contemplation of The Sword" (1938)
Corruption never has been compulsory; when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.
  • I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
    to make earth.
    • "Shine, Perishing Republic" (1939)
  • Meteors are not needed less than mountains:
    shine, perishing republic.
    • "Shine, Perishing Republic" (1939)
  • Corruption never has been compulsory; when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.
    • "Shine, Perishing Republic" (1939)
  • And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
    insufferable master.
    There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught — they say —
    God, when he walked on earth.
    • "Shine, Perishing Republic" (1939)
  • The world's in a bad way, my man,
    And bound to be worse before it mends
    ;
    Better lie up in the mountain here
    Four or five centuries,
    While the stars go over the lonely ocean...
    • "The Stars Go Over The Lonely Ocean" (1940)
Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
  • Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
    And the dogs that talk revolution,
    Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
    I believe in my tusks.
    Long live freedom and damn the ideologies.
    • "The Stars Go Over The Lonely Ocean" (1940)
  • That public men publish falsehoods
    Is nothing new. That America must accept
    Like the historical republics corruption and empire
    Has been known for years.
    Be angry at the sun for setting
    If these things anger you.
    • "Be Angry At The Sun" (1941)
He is no God of love, no justice of a little city like
Dante's Florence, no anthropoid God
Making commandments: this is the God who does not
care and will never cease.
  • The gang serves lies, the passionate
    Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
    Hunts in no pack.
    • "Be Angry At The Sun" (1941)
  • The first part of "The Double Axe" was written during the war and finished a year before the war ended, and it bears the scars; but the poem is not primarily concerned with that grim folly. Its burden, as of some previous work of mine, is to present a philosophical attitude, which might be called Inhumanism, a shifting of emphasis and significance from man to not-man; the rejection of human solipsism and recognition of the transhuman magnificence. It seems time that our race began to think as an adult does, rather than like an egocentric baby or insane person. This manner of thought and feeling is neither misanthropic nor pessimist, though two or three people have said so and may again. It involves no falsehoods, and is a means of maintaining sanity in slippery times; it has objective truth and human value. It offers a reasonable detachment as rule of conduct, instead of love, hate and envy. It neutralizes fanaticism and wild hopes; but it provides magnificence for the religious instinct, and satisfies our need to admire greatness and rejoice in beauty.
    • Preface to The Double Axe and Other Poems (1948)
  • When I first went to Occidental College... there was a literary magazine...called the Aurora, and I remember thinking it odd that Occidental — the west, the setting sun — should be represented by a magazine called Aurora, the dawn. At least it gave us a wide range, the whole daylight sky.
    I was continually writing verses in those days. Nobody, not even I myself, thought they were good verses; but Aurora's editor accepted many of them and it gave me pleasure to see my rhymes in print. They did rhyme, if that is any value, and were usually metrical, but why was I so eager to publish what hardly anyone would read and no one would remember? I suppose the desire for publication is a normal part of the instinct for writing... the writer sits at home, and the mere fact of being printed provides his verses with a kind of audience... So, having his vanity partially satisfied, he can go ahead and try better work.
    • Letter to a group of Occidental College students (1955)
The great explosion is probably only a metaphor — I know
not — of faceless violence, the root of all things.
  • He is no God of love, no justice of a little city like
    Dante's Florence, no anthropoid God
    Making commandments: this is the God who does not
    care and will never cease.
    Look at the seas there
    Flashing against this rock in the darkness — look at the
    tide-stream stars — and the fall of nations — and dawn
    Wandering with wet white feet down the Carmel Valley
    to meet the sea. These are real and we see their beauty.
    The great explosion is probably only a metaphor — I know
    not — of faceless violence, the root of all things.
    • "The Great Explosion" in the posthumous publication The Beginning and the End (1973)
  • Poetry is bound to concern itself chiefly with permanent aspects of life.
    • As quoted in Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (1981) edited by Leonard S. Klein, Vol. 2, p. 504
  • I will have shepherds for my philosophers,
    Tall dreary men lying on the hills all night
    Watching the stars, let their dogs watch the sheep.
    And I'll have lunatics
    For my poets, strolling from farm to farm, wild liars distorting
    The country news into supernaturalism —
    For all men to such minds are devils or gods — and that increases
    Man's dignity, man's importance, necessary lies
    Best told by fools.
    • "The Silent Shepherds"
Science and mathematics
Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
They never touch it...
  • Science and mathematics
    Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
    They never touch it: consider what an explosion
    Would rock the bones of men into little white fragments and unsky the world
    If any mind for a moment touch truth.
    • "The Silent Shepherds"
I think, here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky...
  • Here is a symbol in which
    Many high tragic thoughts
    Watch their own eyes.
    • "Rock and Hawk"
  • I think, here is your emblem
    To hang in the future sky;

    Not the cross, not the hive,
    But this; bright power, dark peace;
    Fierce consciousness joined with final
    Disinterestedness;
    Life with calm death; the falcon’s
    Realist eyes and act
    Married to the massive
    Mysticism of stone,
    Which failure cannot cast down
    Nor success make proud.
    • "Rock and Hawk"
  • When the sun shouts and people abound
    One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of bronze
    And the iron age; iron the unstable metal;
    Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother; the towered-up cities
    Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster.
    Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rains will cure them,
    Then nothing will remain of the iron age
    And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem
    Stuck in the world's thought, splinters of glass
    In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain...
    • "Summer Holiday"
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
  • The extraordinary patience of things!
    This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses —
    How beautiful when we first beheld it,
    Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
    No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing...
    • "Carmel Point"
  • Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
    Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
    That swells and in time will ebb, and all
    Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
    Lives in the very grain of the granite,
    Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. — As for us:
    We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
    We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
    As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
    • "Carmel Point"
  • Against the outcrop boulders of a raised beach
    We built our house when I and my love were young.
    • "The Last Conservative"
  • The rock-cheeks have red fire-stains.
    But the place was maiden, no previous
    Building, no neighbors, nothing but the elements,
    Rock, wind, and sea; in moon-struck nights the mountain
    Coyotes howled in our dooryard; or doe and fawn
    Stared in the lamplit window, We raised two boys here
    All that we saw or heard was beautiful
    And hardly human.

    Oh heavy change.
    The world deteriorates like a rotting apple, worms and a skin.
    They have built streets around us, new houses
    Line them and cars obsess them — and my dearest has died.
    The ocean at least is not changed at all,

    Cold, grim, and faithful; and I still keep a hard edge of forest
    Haunted by long gray squirrels and hoarse herons.

    • "The Last Conservative"
  • If you should look for this place after a handful of lifetimes:
    Perhaps of my planted forest a few
    May stand yet, dark-leaved Australians or the coast cypress, haggard
    With storm-drift; but fire and the axe are devils.
    Look for foundations of sea-worn granite, my fingers had the art
    To make stone love stone, you will find some remnant.

    But if you should look in your idleness after ten thousand years:
    It is the granite knoll on the granite
    And lava tongue in the midst of the bay, by the mouth of the Carmel
    River Valley; these four will remain
    In the changes of names. You will know it by the wild sea-fragrance of the wind.
    • Tor House"
  • Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland
    plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke
    Into pale sea — look west at the hill of water: it is half the planet:
    this dome, this half-globe, this bulging
    Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia,
    Australia and white Antarctica: those are the eyelids that never close;
    this is the staring unsleeping
    Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.
    • "The Eye"

Quotes about Jeffers

  • Something utterly wild had crept into his mind. The seabeaten coast, the fierce freedom of its hunting hawks, possessed and spoke through him. It was one of the most uncanny and compete relationships between a man and his natural background that I know in literature.
  • His spiritual insights were in three major areas: First, he has inspired mankind to see the world anew as the ultimate reality. Second, he perceived and described the physical universe itself as immanently divine. And finally, he challenged us to accept the ultimate demands of modern science which assign humanity no real or ultimate importance in the universe while also aspiring us to lives of spiritual celebration attuned to the awe, beauty and wonder about us.
  • To Robinson Jeffers the earth was hopelessly prostrate.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message