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American poet (1887-1962)

The ghosts of the tribe
Crouch in the nights beside the ghost of a fire, they try to
Remember the sunlight,
Light has died out of their skies.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Apology for Bad Dreams"

is the start of the race; I say
Humanity is the mould to break away from, the crust to
break through, the coal to break into fire,
The atom to be split.


Happy people die whole, they are all dissolved in a moment, they have had what they wanted.


O that our souls could scale a height like this,
A mighty mountain swept o'er by the bleak
Keen winds of heaven; and, standing on that peak
Above the blinding clouds of prejudice,
Would we could see all truly as it is;
The calm eternal truth would keep us meek.


Know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful.


Justice and mercy
Are human dreams, they do not concern the birds nor the fish nor eternal God.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Birds and Fishes"

We have to live like people in a web of knives, we mustn't reach out our hands or we get them gashed.


Corruption never has been compulsory; when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Shine, Perishing Republic"

The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Be Angry at the Sun"

Life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Shine, Perishing Republic"

Oh heavy change.
The world deteriorates like a rotting apple, worms and a skin.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "The Last Conservative"

Science and mathematics
Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
They never touch it: consider what an explosion
Would rock the bones of men into little white fragments and unsky the world
If any mind for a moment touch truth.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "The Silent Shepherds"

We might remember ... not to fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed.


Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both our tones flow from the older fountain.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Continent's End"

I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole. (This is physics, I believe, as well as religion.) The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars, none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole. This whole is in all its parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it and to think of it as divine. It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of the deeper sort of love and there is peace, freedom, I might say a kind of salvation, in turning one's affections outward toward this one God, rather than inwards on one's self, or on humanity, or on human imaginations and abstractions — the world of spirits. I think it is our privilege and felicity to love God for his beauty, without claiming or expecting love from him. We are not important to him, but he to us.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, letter to Sister Mary James Power, Oct. 1, 1934

God is a lion that comes in the night. God is a hawk gliding among the stars--
If all the stars and the earth, and the living flesh of the night that flows in between them, and whatever is beyond them
Were that one bird. He has a bloody beak and harsh talons, he pounces and tears.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "The Inhumanist"

I have seen these ways of God: I know of no reason
For fire and change and torture and the old returnings.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Apology for Bad Dreams"

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire, I
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Shine, Perishing Republic"

I hate my verses, every line, every word.
Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try
One grass-blade's curve, or the throat of one bird
That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky.
Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
One color, one glinting flash, of the splendor of things.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Love the Wild Swan"

I will have shepherds for my philosophers,
Tall dreary men lying on the hills all night
Watching the stars, let their dogs watch the sheep. And I'll have lunatics
For my poets, strolling from farm to farm, wild liars distorting
The country news into supernaturalism —
For all men to such minds are devils or gods — and that increases
Man's dignity, man's importance, necessary lies
Best told by fools.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "The Silent Shepherds"

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Be Angry at the Sun"

Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred
stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries
And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this
thing comes near us again I am finding it hard
To praise you with a whole heart.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "Contemplation of The Sword"

The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, "The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean"


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