Robinson Jeffers

(10 January 1887 – 20 January 1962 / Allegheny, Pennsylvania)

Night Without Sleep - Poem by Robinson Jeffers

The world's as the world is; the nations rearm and prepare to
change; the age of tyrants returns;
The greatest civilization that has ever existed builds itself higher
towers on breaking foundations.
Recurrent episodes; they were determined when the ape's children
first ran in packs, chipped flint to an edge.
I lie and hear dark rain beat the roof, and the blind wind.

In the morning perhaps
I shall find strength again
To value the immense beauty of this time of the world, the flowers
of decay their pitiful loveliness, the fever-dream
Tapestries that back the drama and are called the future. This
ebb of vitality feels the ignoble and cruel
Incidents, not the vast abstract order.

I lie and hear dark rain beat
the roof, and the night-blind wind.
In the Ventana country darkness and rain and the roar of waters
fill the deep mountain-throats.
The creekside shelf of sand where we lay last August under a slip of stars,
And firelight played on the leaning gorge-walls, is drowned and
lost. The deer of the country huddle on a ridge
In a close herd under madrone-trees; they tremble when a rockslide
goes down, they open great darkness-
Drinking eyes and press closer.

Cataracts of rock
Rain down the mountain from cliff to cliff and torment the
stream-bed. The stream deals with them. The laurels are wounded,
Redwoods go down with their earth and lie thwart the gorge. I
hear the torrent boulders battering each other,
I feel the flesh of the mountain move on its bones in the wet

Is this more beautiful
Than man's disasters? These wounds will heal in their time; so
will humanity's. This is more beautiful ... at night . . .

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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