Saturday, August 19, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Robinson Jeffers (1887 – 1962)


American poet.
Robinson Jeffers
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.
Jeffers quotes
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...
Jeffers
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.




Jeffers Robinson quotes
Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.
Jeffers Robinson
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.
Robinson Jeffers quotes
To Robinson Jeffers the earth was hopelessly prostrate.
Robinson Jeffers
I have seen these ways of God: I know of no reason
For fire and change and torture and the old returnings.
Jeffers Robinson quotes
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.
Jeffers
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.
Jeffers Robinson
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...
Robinson Jeffers
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.




Robinson Jeffers quotes
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.
Robinson Jeffers
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.
Jeffers quotes
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.
Jeffers Robinson
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.
Jeffers Robinson quotes
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.
Robinson Jeffers
The sheer magnificence and vastness of the coastal environment  an epitome of the true wilderness of the world stood as a reminder that all human life is a mere flicker within something unimaginably greater. Jeffer's western wilderness was a key to perceiving the essential wildness of the universe as a whole, in which human personality is only something like a lichen on a rock. No tall heroics for Jeffers.
Robinson Jeffers quotes
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.
Robinson Jeffers
Meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
Jeffers Robinson
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.


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