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Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems

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A book by Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers died in 1962 at the age of seventy-five, ending one of the most controversial poetic careers of this century. The son of a theology professor at Western Seminary in Pittsburgh, Jeffers was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as a boy, and … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Poetry
Author: Robinson Jeffers
Publisher: Vintage
1 review about Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems

Perhaps He Had a Point ...

  • Jul 30, 2010
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) was an outspoken, vitriolic isolationist during World War II; that stance has colored his reputation as a poet and a human forevermore. But his 'isolation' was more than merely a rejection of America's pretenses of a special destiny and a moral superiority. Jeffers was effectively a hermit, a bleak-eyed flinty misanthrope. In another era, an era of spiritual credulity, he might have been a flagellant saint or a stylite. Instead he lived in a stone house built with his own hands on the rugged Big Sur coast of California, where he wrote his painfully beautiful poems about cruelty and passion in utter isolation from any trends or fashions in the literary world. His work is like nobody else's in the English language. His obdurate pessimism about human nature is uniquely, perversely, a tribute to the human will.

Probably the best review of a poet's work is a sample of his poetry:


While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and deca-
dence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stub-
bornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thick-
ening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.
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.

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