The Selected Poetry Of Robinson Jeffers

The Selected Poetry Of Robinson Jeffers

by Robinson. Jeffers

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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.  See more details below


Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the 1920s, on the strength of Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems, Jeffers's critical reputation rivaled those of Frost and Eliotwhile the relatively frank sexual material to be found in his long, rough-hewn, often Callifornia-based narratives didn't hurt his popular reputation, as Washington State University professor Hunt notes in his introduction. After hitting the cover of Time in 1935, Jeffers (1887-1962) made a selection from his work three years later for Random House, one that has been listed as "out of stock indefinitely" for the last few years. A much more modest Random selected edition published a few years after Jeffers's death remains in print in paper, but this huge selection, culled from the monumental five-volume collected edition Hunt has edited for Stanford, is much more comprehensive, and can claim improved textual accuracy. Hunt's edition strips the punctuation added by contemporary printers (which "often obscures the rhythm and pacing of what Jeffers actually wrote, and at points even obscures meaning and nuance") and includes a carefully weighed choice of long and short works, as well as unpublished work. Jeffers's serious and sometimes morally indignant parables have most recently been taken up by Dana Gioia and others as a bulwark against Pound-and-Eliot-line modernism. This new selection will get readers closer than ever to the poems as Jeffers himself saw them, reacquainting them with "the night-wind veering, the smell of the spilt wine," and allowing readers to place him on their own. (Apr. 26) Forecast: While this selection is clearly intended to replace the Random edition, some readers may still prefer the poet's own selection (which could be provoked back into print), though this set will now have the edge on syllabi and in libraries. Further Jeffers projects from Stanford include Volume Five of The Collected Poetry, which will complete the project, slated for August, and Stones of the Sur, a book of lush Carmel coast photos by Morley Baer matched with appropriate Jeffers poems, which arrives from the press in June ($60 160p ISBN 0-8047-3942-0). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
To accompany his five-volume collected poetry of the American poet, to be completed this year, Hunt (English, Washington State U.) offers a one-volume selection. Primarily a narrative poet, Jeffers (1887-1962) reached the height of his popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. His own punctuation is restored from the changes original editors made, which often interrupted the rhythm and obscured the meaning. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Product Details

Quinn Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.42(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Christ was your lord and captain all your life,
He fails the world but you he did not fail,
He led you through all forms of grief and strife
Intact, a man full-armed, he let prevail
Nor outward malice nor the worse-fanged snake
That coils in one's own brain against your calm,
That great rich jewel well guarded for his sake
With coronal age and death like quieting balm.
I Father having followed other guides
And oftener to my hurt no leader at all,
Through years nailed up like dripping panther hides
For trophies on a savage temple wall
Hardly anticipate that reverend stage
Of life, the snow-wreathed honor of extreme age.


Peace is the heir of dead desire,
Whether abundance killed the cormorant
In a happy hour, or sleep or death
Drowned him deep in dreamy waters,
Peace is the ashes of that fire,
The heir of that king, the inn of that journey.

This last and best and goal: we dead
Hold it so tight you are envious of us
And fear under sunk lids contempt.
Death-day greetings are the sweetest.
Let trumpets roar when a man dies
And rockets fly up, he has found his fortune.

Yet hungering long and pitiably
That way, you shall not reach a finger
To pluck it unripe and before dark
Creep to cover: life broke ten whipstocks
Over my back, broke faith, stole hope,
Before I denounced the covenant of courage.


The storm-dances of gulls, the barking game of seals,
Over and under the ocean ...
Divinely superfluous beauty
Rules the games, presides over destinies, makes trees grow
And hills tower, waves fall.
The incredible beauty of joy
Stars with fire the joining of lips, O let our loves too
Be joined, there is not a maiden
Burns and thirsts for love
More than my blood for you, by the shore of seals while the wings
Weave like a web in the air
Divinely superfluous beauty.


Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God? For to equal a need
Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells,
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Nor the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise
If power and desire were perch-mates.


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.


I am heaping the bones of the old mother
To build us a hold against the host of the air;
Granite the blood-heat of her youth
Held molten in hot darkness against the heart
Hardened to temper under the feet
Of the ocean cavalry that are maned with snow
And march from the remotest west.
This is the primitive rock, here in the wet
Quarry under the shadow of waves
Whose hollows mouthed the dawn; little house each stone
Baptized from that abysmal font
The sea and the secret earth gave bonds to affirm you.

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Meet the Author

Tim Hunt is Professor of English at Washington State University. He is the editor of The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers.

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