Robinson Jeffers

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Biography

John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Most of Jeffers' poetry was written in classic narrative and epic form, but today he is also known for his short verse, and considered an icon of the environmental movement.

Life

Jeffers was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburg ...

Popular Poems
1.
Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
...

2.
Vulture

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
...

3.
Be Angry At The Sun

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
...

4.
Hurt Hawks

I

The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
...

5.
The Answer

Then what is the answer?- Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
...

Popular Quotes
11 November 2014

civilization is a transient sickness.

11 November 2014

How shall the dead taste the deep treasure they have?

11 November 2014

The love of freedom has been the quality of Western man.

11 November 2014

He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.

11 November 2014

This wild swan of a world is no hunter's game.

Comments

Michael Walker 10 November 2019

I have read quite a few of Robinson Jeffers' poems now. They can be obscure in some lines, showing a fine imagination at work. My favorite poem of his is still 'Shine Perishing Republic', which is elegant and the syntax close to perfection, in my opinion.

3 0 Reply
Barbara Hall 14 February 2019

James Karmen’s literary biography of Jeffers led me to the poet’s writing. He is so terribly good that it is shameful he is unread in the 21st century. What a smart man he was, and he marched to his own drum. In the 1930s, he refused to join or support literary groups. He knew the voice of a writer/poet was a singular vision.

5 0 Reply
Anthony White 12 September 2011

In a strange way, his lack of popularity is probably a testimony to his insight; people are shy of hearing what disagrees with the common view. His ability to look beyond the tepid matters of today reminds me of the work of David Jones, someone else maturing gently in obscurity.

72 7 Reply
Yacov Mitchenko 19 July 2010

Robinson Jeffers is a criminally underrated poet, easily the equal of Eliot and Frost (and in my view a better poet than either) . 'Hurt Hawks' and 'Vulture' are among the best animals poems I have read in the language. He's a formidable epic poet, and is generally more successful than the other major English poets at long narratives.

72 12 Reply

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