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Robinson Jeffers (1887- 1962)

John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast.

 

 

 Robinson Jeffers

 

 

 

John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Much of Jeffers' poetry was written in narrative and epic form. However, he is also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the environmental movement.

 

“Nature knows that people are a tide that swells and in time will ebb, and all their works dissolve ... 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 are made from.” 

 

 

“What is this thing called life? I believe

That the earth and the stars too, and the whole glittering universe, and rocks on the mountains have life,

Only we do not call it so--I speak of the life

That oxidizes fats and proteins and carbo-

Hydrates to live on, and from that chemical energy

Makes pleasure and pain, wonder, love, adoration, hatred and terror: how do these things grow

From a chemical reaction?

I think they were here already, I think the rocks

And the earth and the other planets, and the stars and the galaxies

have their various consciousness, all things are conscious;

But the nerves of an animal, the nerves and brain

Bring it to focus; the nerves and brain are like a burning-glass

To concentrate the heat and make it catch fire:

It seems to us martyrs hotter than the blazing hearth

From which it came. So we scream and laugh, clamorous animals

Born howling to die groaning: the old stones in the dooryard

Prefer silence; but those and all things have their own awareness,

As the cells of a man have; they feel and feed and influence each other, each unto all,

Like the cells of a man's body making one being,

They make one being, one consciousness, one life, one God.” 

 

 

 

“A little too abstract, a little too wise,

It is time for us to kiss the earth again,

It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,

Let the rich life run to the roots again.” 

 

 

 

“Justice and mercy/ Are human dreams, they do not concern the birds nor the fish nor eternal God.” 

 

 

 

“Humanity 

is the start of the race; I say 

Humanity is the mould to break away from, the crust to 

break through, the coal to break into fire, 

The atom to be split.” 

― Robinson Jeffers, Selected Poems

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“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. The poet as well 

Builds his monument mockingly; 

For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun 

Die blind and blacken to the heart: 

Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found 

The honey of peace in old poems.” 

 

 

 

“I have heard the summer dust crying to be born.” 

 

 

 

“The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heartbreaking beauty

 

Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.” 

 

 

 

“Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both our tones flow from the older fountain.” 

 

 

“The Atlantic is a stormy moat, and the Mediterranean,

The blue pool in the old garden,

More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice

Of ships and blood and shines in the sun; but here the Pacific:

The ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.

Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs

Nor any future world-quarrel of westering

And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power, battle-falcons,

Are a mote of dust in the great scale-pan.

Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland plunging like

dolphins through the grey 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.” 

 

 

 

“To the end of this age. Oh, a thousand years

Will Hardly leach,” he thought, “this dust of that fire.” 

 

 

 

“You making haste haste on decay...” 

(  Robinson Jeffers )

 

 

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