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Robinson Jeffers: Rock and Hawk

Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.

This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

I think, here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,

But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final

Life with calm death; the falcon's
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.

Public Domain

John Robinson Jeffers (1887 – 1962) was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Much of Jeffers’s 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. Influential and highly regarded in some circles, despite or because of his philosophy of “inhumanism”, Jeffers believed that transcending conflict required human concerns to be de-emphasized in favor of the boundless whole. This led him to oppose U.S. participation in World War II, a stance that was controversial after the U.S. entered the war.

3 comments on “Robinson Jeffers: Rock and Hawk

  1. thomasgoff
    October 22, 2021

    My wife and I have visited Tor House at least twice, and I took a graduate seminar on Jeffers at Sacramento State University (the textbook was Volume One of Tim Hunt’s massive Jeffers edition).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. thomasgoff
    October 22, 2021

    The Tower that Jeffers Built

    I’ve long been intrigued by Tor House, built on rock
    Which seems to absorb its low-ceilinged energy
    And coil the current into its no-ceilinged stock
    Of granite hunch and living resiliency.
    But even more captivating is Hawk Tower,
    Its corridored narrowness much like a shaft
    Negotiated with strain by spelunkers’ power
    Of leg to scale: wall-braced, inch-at-a-time craft.
    Of course, there are stairs, no bannisters, to the top.
    How often did wee Donnan or Garth come scraped
    Or scuffed of knee from stone steps’ abrading edges,
    Their eagerness capable of but that one stop,
    And Una with iodine dab the raw skin thus chafed?
    Nimbly enough, like kid goats along knife-ledges,
    They grew sure. Often attained the roof-plane flat
    For sea-gazing, where Robin and Una (and Nora and I)
    have sat.

    For Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts and the Tor House Foundation

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2021 by in Environmentalism, Opinion Leaders, Poetry.

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