Manual Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime

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"I like books like this, books that treat poetry as a cultural product that gestures to its moment, the circumstances of its unfolding - books that see poetry as history.
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Robinson Jeffers and the American sublime

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I 've thin in this view. I recommend shop Cover letters made easy cost team nor information documents to have those service. It is the feeling—I will say the certainty—that the universe is one being, a single organism, one great life that includes all life and all things; and is so beautiful that it must be loved and reverenced; and in moments of mystical vision we identify ourselves with it. This pantheistic and mystical sense of awe that he experienced in the presence of the natural world is not, he made clear, attributable to a moral force concerned with good and evil.

Rather, the god he intuits is a consciousness inherent in the cosmos, one that cares nothing for man or any other creature, a god without mercy or love. The notion that this world had been placed here for the convenience of this bipedal hominid sporting a vestigial tail, a lethal surfeit of intelligence, ineradicable tribal malice, and boundless arrogance — he viewed as a tragic delusion.

Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime

Our task, the poet tells us — and, as I said earlier, I believe it has been much too little noted — is to remain merciful and compassionate. Although the poet is decidedly not a Christian, in one intriguing poem he borrows the Christian notion of original sin for a singular and most interesting purpose. He writes:. This is the human dawn.

Robinson Jeffers: Poet

As for me, I would rather Be a worm in a wild apple than a son of man. But we are what we are, and we might remember Not to hate any person, for all are vicious; And not be astonished at any evil, all are deserved; And not fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed. It is as bitter a passage as one is likely to find from the pen of an American poet and certainly strong evidence of his anger at humanity.

And how interesting that from this bitter misanthropic narrative the author draws the lesson that the ubiquity of human viciousness should restrain us from hating any individual: since we are all guilty of such evil — love of vengeance and slaughter, greed, hypocrisy and bullying arrogance. Each of us needs to be wary of our own darker predispositions, our own presumed and false moral superiority to our neighbors.

Even as he watches he knows. It is, in fact, the first half of the poem, the section about the captured and panicked fish, that is the more vivid and more deeply felt.

Robinson Jeffers: Selected full-text books and articles

He describes the fishermen this way:. In Christmas month against the smoulder and menace Of a long angry sundown, Red ash of the dark solstice, you see the anglers, Pitiful, cruel, primeval…. That is the poem of a man anguished — unambiguously — by the agonizing mass death of small sentient creatures. If his world-view is misanthropic, it is a misanthropy that springs from compassion, from profound regret at the inherent cruelty of our nature.

It is a poem of tender concern for an injured bird whom he had fed for six weeks and had then found himself forced to euthanize, a great redtail that. It begins with a visit to an animal research laboratory:. Are presently dying of hunger in the provinces of China. It is not time for happiness. According to Tim Hunt, an earlier draft of that poem made no mention of hunting. There he simply says,.

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But he relished the grandeur of the violence inherent in the natural world: he is the singer of coastal storms and violent seas, the poet whose major symbol was the predatory hawk. Like the sea and the stones, they have no alternative. But the breed of man Has been queer from the start.

It is humankind alone, the species that kills other creatures for recreation and indulges in periodic orgies of mass murder of his own species, that darkens the earth and should be stopped. I wish you could smell the Russian and the German torture-camps. An isolate figure who was never interested in the status of his literary reputation, Jeffers spent his final years writing and living in his beloved Tor House.

An heroic poet of an heroic landscape, it is unlikely that he lived those last years with the consolations of Christian hope. In the opening section he begins to indulge in that consoling philosophy of eternal recurrence to which he had always been attracted, but then, with a heartbreaking ellipsis stops himself:. It is possible that all these conditions of us Are fixed points on the returning orbit of time and exist eternally… It is no good.


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Una has died and I Am left waiting for death. Like a leafless tree Waiting for the roots to rot and the trunk to fall. Some 50 lines later he once again refuses the romantic lie, the small, consoling trope of conventional elegiac verse that allows the speaker to address the dead:. Never fear: I shall not forget you — Until I am with you. The dead indeed forget all things. And when I speak to you it is only play-acting And self-indulgence: you cannot hear me, you do not exist. Here the poet of epic conflict and thunderous violence permits himself a sweet fantasy born of innocent love.

Instead of lying by their fire as he had done in life, Haig lies now in the ground a few feet outside their window. The critical Hounds of Hell who pursued him with their wrath and did their best to destroy his reputation are likely not to triumph in the end. Under the ground like me your lives will appear As good and joyful as mine. And never have known the passionate undivided Fidelities that I knew. Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided…. But to me you were true. You were never masters, but friends.

I was your friend.

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I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures To the end and far past the end. If this is my end, I am not lonely.

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I am not afraid. I am still yours.