Robinson Jeffers

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

Post Mortem - Poem by Robinson Jeffers

Happy people die whole, they are all dissolved in a moment,
they have had what they wanted,
No hard gifts; the unhappy
Linger a space, but pain is a thing that is glad to be forgotten;
but one who has given
His heart to a cause or a country,
His ghost may spaniel it a while, disconsolate to watch it. I was
wondering how long the spirit
That sheds this verse will remain
When the nostrils are nipped, when the brain rots in its vault
or bubbles in the violence of fire
To be ash in metal. I was thinking
Some stalks of the wood whose roots I married to the earth of
this place will stand five centuries;
I held the roots in my hand,
The stems of the trees between two fingers: how many remote
generations of women
Will drink joy from men's loins,
And dragged from between the thighs of what mothers will
giggle at my ghost when it curses the axemen,
Gray impotent voice on the sea-wind,
When the last trunk falls? The women's abundance will have
built roofs over all this foreland;
Will have buried the rock foundations
I laid here: the women's exuberance will canker and fail in its
time and like clouds the houses
Unframe, the granite of the prime
Stand from the heaps: come storm and wash clean: the plaster
is all run to the sea and the steel
All rusted; the foreland resumes
The form we loved when we saw it. Though one at the end of
the age and far off from this place
Should meet my presence in a poem,
The ghost would not care but be here, long sunset shadow in the
seams of the granite, and forgotten
The flesh, a spirit for the stone.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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