>> / Robinson Jeffers

. Poems of Robinson Jeffers



/ John Robinson Jeffers, (10 1887 20 1962) .



The storm-dances of gulls, the barking game of seals,
Over and under the ocean...
Divinely superfluous beauty
Rules the games, presides over destinies, makes trees grow
And hills tower, waves fall.
The incredible beauty of joy
Stars with fire the joining of lips, let our loves too
Be joined, there is not a maiden
Burns and thirsts for love
More than my blood for you, by the shore of seals while the wir
Weave like a web in the air
Divinely superfluous beauty.



Old garden of grayish and ochre lichen,
How long a time since the brown people who have vanished from here
Built fires beside you and nestled by you
Out of the ranging sea-wind? A hundred years, two hundred,
You have been dissevered from humanity
And only known the stubble squirrels and the headland rabbits,
Or the long-fetlocked plowhorses
Breaking the hilltop in December, sea-gulls following,
Screaming in the black furrow; no one
Touched you with love, the gray hawk and the red hawk touched you
Where now my hand lies. So I have brought you
Wine and white milk and honey for the hundred years of famine
And the hundred cold ages of sea-wind.
I did not dream the taste of wine could bind with granite,
Nor honey and milk please you; but sweetly
They mingle down the storm-worn cracks among the mosses,
Interpenetrating the silent
Wing-prints of ancient weathers long at peace, and the older
Scars of primal fire, and the stone
Endurance that is waiting millions of years to carry
A corner of the house, this also destined.
Lend me the stone strength of the past and I will lend you
The wings of the future, for I have them.
How dear you will be to me when I too grow old, old comrade.



At the equinox when the earth was veiled in a late rain, wreathed
with wet poppies, waiting spring,
The ocean swelled for a far storm and beat its boundary, the
ground-swell shook the beds of granite.

I gazing at the boundaries of granite and spray, the established
sea-marks, felt behind me
Mountain and plain, the immense breadth of the continent, before
me the mass and doubled stretch of water.

I said: You yoke the Aleutian seal-rocks with the lava and coral
sowings that flower the south,
Over your flood the life that sought the sunrise faces ours that has
followed the evening star.

The long migrations meet across you and it is nothing to you, you
have forgotten us, mother.
You were much younger when we crawled out of the womb and
lay in the sun's eye on the tideline.

It was long and long ago; we have grown proud since then and
you have grown bitter; life retains
Your mobile soft unquiet strength; and envies hardness, the
insolent quietness of stone.

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.

That watched you fill your beds out of the condensation of thin
vapor and watched you change them,
That saw you soft and violent wear your boundaries down, eat
rock, shift places with the continents.

Mother, though my song's measure is like your surf-beat's ancient
rhythm I never learned it of you.
Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both our tones
flow from the other fountain



The mad girl with the staring eyes and long white fingers
Hooked in the stones of the wall,
The storm-wrack hair and the screeching mouth: does it matter,
Whether the people believe
Your bitter fountain? Truly men hate the truth; they'd liefer
Meet a tiger on the road.
Therefore the poets honey their truth with lying; but religion-
Venders and political men
Pour from the barrel, new lies on the old, and are praised for
kindly Wisdom. Poor bitch, be wise.
No: you'll still mumble in a corner a crust of truth, to men
And gods disgusting.-You and I, Cassandra.



At the near approach of a star-huge tides
Agitated the molten surface of the earth.
The tides grew higher as it passed. It tore from the earth
I he top of one great wave: the moon was torn
Out of the Pacific'basin: the cold white stone that lights
us at night
Left that great wound in the earth, the Pacific Ocean
With all its islands and navies. I can stand on the cliff here
And hear the half-molten basalt and granite tearing apai
and see that huge bird
Leaping up to her star. But the star passed,
The moon remained, circling her ancient home,
Dragging the sea-tides after her, haggard with loneliness.

The mathematicians and physics men
Have their mythology; they work alongside the truth,
Never touching it; their equations are false
But the things work. Or, when gross error appears,
They invent new ones; they drop the theory of waves
In universal ether and imagine curved space.
Nevertheless their equations bombed Hiroshima.
The terrible things worked.
The poet also
Has his mythology. He tells you the moon arose
Out of the Pacific basin. He tells you that Troy was burnt for
Beautiful woman, whose face launched a thousand ships.
It is unlikely: it might be true: but church and state
Depend on more peculiarly impossible myths:
That all men are born free and equal: consider that!
And that a wandering Hebrew poet named Jesus
Is the God of the universe. Consider that!



I have told you in another poem, whether you've read it or not,
About a beautiful place the hard-wounded f
Deer go to die in; their bones lie mixed in their little
Under leaves by a flashing cliff-brook, and if
They have ghosts they like it, the bones and mixed antlers
are well content.
Now comes for me the time to engage
My burial place: put me in a beautiful place far off from men,
No cemetery, no necropolis,
And for God's sake no columbarium, nor yet no funeral.

But if the human animal were precious
As the quick deer or that hunter in the night the lonely puma
I should be pleased to lie in one grave with 'em.




The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.
He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,
The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.
You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.


I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his
talons when he moved.
We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.
I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at
its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.



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