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robinson jeffers Quotes

Robinson Jeffers Quotes

Birth Date: 1887-01-10 (Monday, January 10th, 1887)
Date of Death: 1962-01-20 (Saturday, January 20th, 1962)



    • 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.
    • The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars, life is your child, but there is in me Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye that watched before there was an ocean.
    • Mother, though my song's measure is like your surf-beat's ancient rhythm I never learned it of you. Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both our tones flow from the older fountain.
    • Happy people die whole, they are all dissolved in a moment, they have had what they wanted
    • Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you fore-defeated 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.
    • 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.
    • I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things by making one's own life and environment beautiful, as far as one's power reaches.This includes moral beauty, one of the qualities of humanity, though it seems not to appear elsewhere in the universe. But I would have each person realize that his contribution is not important, its success not really a matter for exultation nor its failure for mourning; the beauty of things is sufficient without him. (An office of tragic poetry is to show that there is beauty in pain and failure as much as in success and happiness.)
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Then what is the answer? - Not to be deluded by dreams. To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence, and their tyrants come, many times before. When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential. To keep one's own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not wish for evil; and not be duped By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will not be fulfilled.
    • Know that however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history... for contemplation or in fact... Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken.
    • There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that cultures decay, and life's end is death.
    • You ask what I am for and what I am against in Spain. I would give my right hand of course to prevent the agony; I would not give a flick of my little finger to help either side win.
    • Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide. The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel, formerly used to kill men, but here In the sense of a symbol.
    • 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.
    • I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
    • Meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.
    • Corruption never has been compulsory; when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.
    • And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master. There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught - they say - God, when he walked on earth.
    • 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...
    • Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy And the dogs that talk revolution, Drunk with talk, liars and believers. I believe in my tusks. Long live freedom and damn the ideologies.
    • 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.
    • The gang serves lies, the passionate Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth Hunts in no pack.
    • When I first went to Occidental College... there was a literary magazine...called the Aurora, and I remember thinking it odd that Occidental - the west, the setting sun - should be represented by a magazine called Aurora, the dawn. At least it gave us a wide range, the whole daylight sky. I was continually writing verses in those days. Nobody, not even I myself, thought they were good verses; but Aurora's editor accepted many of them and it gave me pleasure to see my rhymes in print. They did rhyme, if that is any value, and were usually metrical, but why was I so eager to publish what hardly anyone would read and no one would remember? I suppose the desire for publication is a normal part of the instinct for writing... the writer sits at home, and the mere fact of being printed provides his verses with a kind of audience... So, having his vanity partially satisfied, he can go ahead and try better work.
    • He is no God of love, no justice of a little city like Dante's Florence, no anthropoid God Making commandments: this is the God who does not care and will never cease. Look at the seas there Flashing against this rock in the darkness - look at the tide-stream stars - and the fall of nations - and dawn Wandering with wet white feet down the Carmel Valley to meet the sea. These are real and we see their beauty. The great explosion is probably only a metaphor - I know not - of faceless violence, the root of all things.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Here is a symbol in which Many high tragic thoughts Watch their own eyes.
    • I think, here is your emblem To hang in the future sky; Not the cross, not the hive, But this; bright power, dark peace; Fierce consciousness joined with final Disinterestedness; Life with calm death; the falcon's Realist eyes and act Married to the massive Mysticism of stone, Which failure cannot cast down Nor success make proud.
    • When the sun shouts and people abound One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of bronze And the iron age; iron the unstable metal; Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother; the towered-up cities Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster. Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rains will cure them, Then nothing will remain of the iron age And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem Stuck in the world's thought, splinters of glass In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain...
    • The extraordinary patience of things! This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses - How beautiful when we first beheld it, Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs; No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing...
    • Now the spoiler has come: does it care? Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide That swells and in time will ebb, and all Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty Lives in the very grain of the granite, Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. - As for us: We must uncenter our minds from ourselves; We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
    • Against the outcrop boulders of a raised beach We built our house when I and my love were young.
    • The rock-cheeks have red fire-stains. But the place was maiden, no previous Building, no neighbors, nothing but the elements, Rock, wind, and sea; in moon-struck nights the mountain Coyotes howled in our dooryard; or doe and fawn Stared in the lamplit window, We raised two boys here All that we saw or heard was beautiful And hardly human. Oh heavy change. The world deteriorates like a rotting apple, worms and a skin. They have built streets around us, new houses Line them and cars obsess them - and my dearest has died. The ocean at least is not changed at all, Cold, grim, and faithful; and I still keep a hard edge of forest Haunted by long gray squirrels and hoarse herons.
    • If you should look for this place after a handful of lifetimes: Perhaps of my planted forest a few May stand yet, dark-leaved Australians or the coast cypress, haggard With storm-drift; but fire and the axe are devils. Look for foundations of sea-worn granite, my fingers had the art To make stone love stone, you will find some remnant. But if you should look in your idleness after ten thousand years: It is the granite knoll on the granite And lava tongue in the midst of the bay, by the mouth of the Carmel River Valley; these four will remain In the changes of names. You will know it by the wild sea-fragrance of the wind.
    • Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke Into pale sea - look west at the hill of water: it is half the planet: this dome, this half-globe, this bulging Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia, Australia and white Antarctica: those are the eyelids that never close; this is the staring unsleeping Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.
    • I have seen these ways of God: I know of no reason For fire and change and torture and the old returnings.
    • Poetry is bound to concern itself chiefly with permanent aspects of life.
    • Something utterly wild had crept into his mind.The seabeaten coast, the fierce freedom of its hunting hawks, possessed and spoke through him. It was one of the most uncanny and compete relationships between a man and his natural background that I know in literature.
    • His spiritual insights were in three major areas: First, he has inspired mankind to see the world anew as the ultimate reality. Second, he perceived and described the physical universe itself as immanently divine. And finally, he challenged us to accept the ultimate demands of modern science which assign humanity no real or ultimate importance in the universe while also aspiring us to lives of spiritual celebration attuned to the awe, beauty and wonder about us.
    • To Robinson Jeffers the earth was hopelessly prostrate.
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