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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems » User review

Perhaps He Had a Point ...

  • Jul 30, 2010
Rating:
+5
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:

SHINE PERISHING REPUBLIC

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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Göran ()
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Wiki

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 spent three years in Germany and Switzerland before entering the University of Western Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh) at fifteen. His education continued on the West Coast after his parents moved there, and he received a B.A. from Occidental College at eighteen. His interest in forestry, medicine, and general science led him to pursue his studies at the University of Southern California, and the University of Zurich.

The poems in this volume have been selected from his major works, among them Be Angry at the Sun; Hungerfield; The Double Axe; Roan Stallion; Tamar and Other Poems; as well as The Beginning and the End, which contains his last poems.

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Details

ISBN-10: 0394702956
ISBN-13: 978-0394702957
Author: Robinson Jeffers
Publisher: Vintage

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