cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (I have been sad/the song was all I had)
Robinson Jeffers, "Love the Wild Swan"

"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
Hash, of the splendor of things.
Unlucky hunter, Oh bullets of wax,
The lion beauty, the wild-swan wings, the storm of the wings."
--This wild swan of a world is no hunter's game.
Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast
Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame.
Does it matter whether you hate your . . . self?
At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (walk in the city by yourself)
Robinson Jeffers, "Let Them Alone."

If God has been good enough to give you a poet
Then listen to him. But for God's sake let him alone until he is dead;
no prizes, no ceremony,
They kill the man. A poet is one who listens
To nature and his own heart; and if the noise of the world grows up
around him, and if he is tough enough,
He can shake off his enemies, but not his friends.
That is what withered Wordsworth and muffled Tennyson, and would have
killed Keats; that is what makes
Hemingway play the fool and Faulkner forget his art.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
When I left at 5pm to work on a project with a partner, I had no idea it'd end up taking eight hours...


Robinson Jeffers, "De rerum virtute" (excerpt).


Here is the skull of a man: a man's thoughts and emotions
Have moved under the thin bone vault like clouds
Under the blue one: love and desire and pain,
Thunderclouds of wrath and white gales of fear
Have hung inside here: and sometimes the curious desire of knowing
Values and purposes of things
Has coasted like a little observer air-plane over the images
That filled this mind: it never discovered much,
And now all's empty, a bone bubble, a blown-out eggshell.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (to every face I met I said farewell)
Robinson Jeffers is still depressing and misanthropic. Honestly, though, I like him for it.


Excerpt from "Hurt Hawks," stanza II.

I'd sooner, except for the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great redtail
Has 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 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 old
Implacable arrogance. I gave him the lead gift in the twilight. What fell was relaxed,
Owl-downy, soft and feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the sky is bleak and lovely)
I love the sound of this read aloud, especially the strong rhythm of those last two lines. I really like reading poems about God, although (because?) I'm an athiestic agnostic: like the idea of adaptation and reinterpretation, the personal idea of God, the interpretation of the idea, the imagery, the sense of it, personal address to it, the way in which is shapes and is shaped by the framework of one's personal universe--it's fascinating to me.


Robinson Jeffers, Untitled.

There is no God but God; he is all that exists,
And being alone does strangely. He is like an old Basque shepherd,
Who was brought to California fifty years ago,
He has always been alone, he talks to himself,
Solitude has got into his brain,
Beautiful and terrible things come from his mind. God is a man of war,
Whom can he strike but himself? God is a great poet:
Whom can he praise but himself?
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (autumn travels)
What's that you say? "Hey, Ceru, it's April. Did you know April is National Poetry Month?" Well, blow me down.

In honor of Cataloging, by which I first met this: Robinson Jeffers, "Monument." Everyone and her sister quotes the first line of this; no one seems to know the rest, which is morally stickier and ickier and more complex than you'd grok from that line. (I had to look it up in a volume of collected Jeffers in my school's library, where I also found some other poems you'll be seeing later this month, although I didn't copy down the ones about FDR and Woodrow Wilson meeting in hell.

Jeffers was awfully blase about fascism and genocide for a man who lived through WWII; he seems to have been an isolationist, and, going purely by the poems, to have thought that for having involved the US in a war across the Atlantic, Roosevelt was a greater sinner than Hitler. So.

Although this poem is terrifying, it has a sort of internal logic that lingers. I love and hate how it builds on itself, taking what first seems to be a lovely sentiment and following it into something that to me is evil, or at least inhumanly callous and cosmic in its vision; I don't know if Jeffers meant it that way or not. But perhaps this is the kind of poem that an isolationist writes after the second world war has come and gone.)


Monument

Erase the lines: I pray you not to love classifications:
The thing is like a river, from source to sea-mouth
One flowing life. We that have the honor and the hardship of being human
Are one flesh with the beasts, and the beasts with the plants
One streaming sap, and certainly the plants and algae and the earth they spring from,
Are one flesh with the stars. The classifications
Are mostly a kind of memoria technica, use it but don't be fooled.
It is all truly one life, red blood and tree-sap,
Animal, mineral, sidereal, one stream, one organism, one God.
There is nothing to be despised nor hated nor feared.
When the third world-war comes, do it well. Kill. Kill your brothers. Why not?
God's on both sides. Make a monument of it:
There were never so many people so suddenly killed. We can spare millions and millions,
The chiefs in the Kremlin think, and I too. Man's life's
Too common to be lamented; and if they died after a while in their beds
It would be nearly so painful--death's never pleasant.
May the terror be brief--but for a people to be defeated is worse.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Stone is a great metaphor for trying to transcend mortality. I get very blithe and silly about it sometimes, and then I go walking down next to the Christian Science Monitor building in the Back Bay area of Boston, and I am stunned by the size and beauty of the building and the courtyard, and suddenly I can't laugh at stone anymore. God, I love that place. If I don't live in the country, I have to live in the city, so I can walk amid the next-best thing to mountains.


Robinson Jeffers, "To the Stone-Cutters."

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.

January 2017

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