Sunday, April 11, 2010

Robinson Jeffers

The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers: 1939-1962 The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers: 1939-1962 by Tim Hunt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hurt Hawksby Robinson Jeffers


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

Every single one of Jeffers' poems make me sad and angry and yet I recognize something beautiful through them. He is best known as the poet who lived and wrote about Big Sur. He lived a passionate life, stole a married woman away from her civilized husband, lived in a rock tower built by hand from the stones of Carmel. He fell out of favor in the public schools for a time, maybe we didn't want to teach our children about women who rebel against the cruelty and power. Or maybe his seeming mysanthropy,

"I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk."

But he is now regaining popularity with environmentalists.Jeffers loves the wild places, metaphorical and physical. He doesn't much love the human race when it congregates and becomes 'civilized'. Still, he sees something of value in living:

"Does it matter whether you hate your...self? At leastLove your eyes that can see, your mind that canHear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan."

View all my reviews >>

No comments:

Post a Comment