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Friday, 25 March 2011

Robinson Jeffers: Self-Criticism in February


Storm clouds, San Francisco, California: photo by franklin_hunting, 26 February 2011

The bay is not blue but sombre yellow
With wrack from the battered valley, it is speckled with violent foam-heads
And tiger-striped with long lovely storm-shadows.
You love this better than the other mask; better eyes than yours
Would feel the equal beauty in the blue.
It is certain you have loved the beauty of storm disproportionately.

But the present time is not pastoral, but founded
On violence, pointed for more massive violence: perhaps it is not
Perversity but need that perceives the storm-beauty.
Well, bite on this: your poems are too full of ghosts and demons,
And people like phantoms --
how often life's are --
And passion so strained that the clay mouths go praying for destruction --

Alas, it is not unusual in life;
To every soul at some time. But why insist on it? And now
For the worst fault: you have never mistaken
Demon nor passion nor idealism for the real God.

Then what is most disliked in those verses
Remains most true. Unfortunately. If only you could sing
That God is love, or perhaps that social
Justice will soon prevail. I can tell lies in prose.

Approaching thunderstorm, Garden Grove, California: photo by rowjimmy76, 21 March 2011

Thunderstorm clouds, asperatus formation, California: photo by damajaco, 6 March 2011

Robinson Jeffers: Self-Criticism in February, from Such Counsels You Gave To Me, 1937


Anonymous said...

I really think the images you've chosen match the poem's projection of voices arguing in your head and your head being the whole world incredibly well.

On violence, pointed for more massive violence

really seems to sum the current state of affairs up for me.

I was up in the middle of the night working on something and then read this. I went back to bed and dreamed and my dreams included reading this poem and the images. It's very powerful.

All the images are great. I'll never forget (and have never seen anything like) the uppermost one.



ah yes, "the beauty of the storm" . . . .


grey white clouds in front of invisible
top of ridge, blue jay on redwood fence
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

seems likely, further limit
in certain continued

order of experience turning
back, picture, lines

waves breaking across mouth of channel,
sunlit whiteness of clouds above ridge

TC said...

Curtis, yes, Jeffers' lines on violence bring this right up to date.

The top image -- that's the sort of thing we've been seeing a lot of lately. Theatrically spectacular, but when the cloud opens and drops on your head...


in certain continued

order[s] of experience

today feels like déja vu all over again -- that is, sopping wet.

Another workout for your sump pump.

The fellow who took the shot of the dramatic thunderheads over Garden Grove said that the area has never seen the like. Within an hour after he had shot the picture, he said, over two inches of rain came down.