Selected Poemsby Robinson Jeffers
The son of a theology professor at Western Seminary in Pittsburgh, Jeffers was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as a boy, and spent three years in Germany and Switzerland before entering the University of Western Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh)
Robinson Jeffers died in 1962 at the age of seventy-five, ending one of the most controversial poetic careers of this century.
The son of a theology professor at Western Seminary in Pittsburgh, Jeffers was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as a boy, and spent three years in Germany and Switzerland before entering the University of Western Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh) at fifteen. His education continued on the West Coast after his parents moved there, and he received a B.A. from Occidental College at eighteen. His interest in forestry, medicine, and general science led him to pursue his studies at the University of Southern California, and the University of Zurich.
The poems in this volume have been selected from his major works, among them Be Angry at the Sun; Hungerfield; The Double Axe; Roan Stallion; Tamar and Other Poems; as well as The Beginning and the End, which contains his last poems.
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This is a fine collection of short and long poems by Jeffers, and it is a collection that has been my constant companion for over thirty years. Jeffers excels at short poems, and his are among the finest. The notion that Jeffers is critical of the human species is a common misconception, and only shows that many readers cannot grasp or feel what he is writing about. If Jeffers is critical of some aspects of American society and culture, then he is in good company. I have returned to the poems in this small volume year after year, and have always found things of value. Jeffers is certainly not a preacher, and he was never interested in being in the limelight. He had very little to say to his critics. He let his poetry speak for itself, and I would highly recommend the reader to listen with their own heart, and an open mind. The works of Robinson Jeffers are possible even more relevant today than they were when he wrote them.
This collection of Jeffers' best poems is a fairly good one. You realize a few things about the poet. One is that I don't think the man knows how to write a short poem. The second is that he is extremely critical of the human species, and America in particular. You can see his theology background (his father) in the religious tones in many of his poems. There's also a lot of hawks in his poems. It seemed like every third poem or so there was a hawk. I also suspect that he wanted to be a sculpture. There are a lot of sculptures and stones in his poems. The preachy tone does get to be a bit much, and you get real sick of hawks by the time you are finished, but there are some really good poems in the collection. 'The Stone Cutters,' 'Contemplation of the Sword,' 'The House Dog's Grave,' and 'Roan Stallion' being the best he has to offer.