A curated webspace for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 15,000 daily subscribers. Over 7,000 archived posts.
Mountains, a moment’s earth-waves rising and hollowing; the earth too’s an ephemerid; the stars— Short-lived as grass the stars quicken in the nebula and dry in their summer, they spiral Blind up space, scattered black seeds of a future; nothing lives long, the whole sky’s Recurrences tick the seconds of the hours of the ages of the gulf before birth, and the gulf After death is like dated: to labor eighty years in a notch of eternity is nothing too tiresome, Enormous repose after, enormous repose before, the flash of activity. Surely you never have dreamed the incredible depths were prologue and epilogue merely To the surface play in the sun, the instant of life, what is called life? I fancy That silence is the thing, this noise a found word for it; interjection, a jump of the breath at that silence; Stars burn, grass grows, men breathe: as a man finding treasure says ‘Ah!’ but the treasure’s the essence; Before the man spoke it was there, and after he has spoken he gathers it, inexhaustible treasure.
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) 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. 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. [source: Wikipedia]
Thanks, Robbi. I love Jeffers for his vision and originality.
So great this poem!
How I love when grass arises in poetic discourse. I cannot explain why I’ve read and heard so little of R.J. As Its always gratifying to do so. So many poets, sometimes the essential gets left out. He is great!
Thanks, Sean. Yes, RJ was popular and highly regarded in the 1930s, representing a new vision of America, but he fell out of favor with the public during WWII when he declared his pacifism. His reputation has never been re-established. A pity.
Would you say William Stafford escaped the condemnation he suffered? Have you read WS’s “Down In My Heart?” It was my wakening to the status of the CO…
Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS
I have not read Stafford’s CO, but I knew him slightly and loved his poetry, and he was, without a doubt, the most wise and gentle man I’ve ever known.
His work didn’t become widely recognized until the 1960s when being a pacifist was acceptable, so he did not suffer the fall from popular acclaim that RJ did.