The Selected Poetry
“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.”
― Robinson Jeffers, "The Continent's End"
Robinson Jeffers was born on January 10, 1887. In this, the definitive selection of Jeffers poetry, there is a broad selection that includes his best efforts. Ranging from Roan Stallion and Cawdor from the twenties to his last poems in the late fifties, the collection demonstrates that he belongs in the pantheon with the best poets of the ages. "Rock and Hawk" is both one of his greatest poems and one of my favorites; but I also relish the great thoughts found in some of the smallest poems:
"I am neither mountain nor bird
Nor star: and I seek joy."
Jeffers, who lived on and often wrote about the California coast, is regarded by many as “the father of environmental poetry.” He attracted controversy for his pacifism and his philosophy of “Inhumanism,” which advocated "a shifting of emphasis and significance from man to notman; the rejection of human solipsism and recognition of the trans-human magnificence." But I like to focus on the beauty of his words; for example "Tor House" which is today a popular stop for both literary travelers and environmentalists.
If you should look for this place after a handful of lifetimes:
Perhaps of my planted forest a few
May stand yet, dark-leaved Australians or the coast cypress, haggard
With storm-drift; but fire and the axe are devils.
Look for foundations of sea-worn granite, my fingers had the art
To make stone love stone, you will find some remnant….
― Robinson Jeffers, The Selected Poetry, "Tor House"
“A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.”
― Robinson Jeffers, The Selected Poetry, "The Return"
The Selected Poetry by Robinson Jeffers. Stanford University Press, 2002 (1938)