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Friday 12 December 2014

Robinson Jeffers: Night Without Sleep


Aidan Stephenson, 12, and Conor Stephenson,10, visiting from Phoenix, watch the waves break on Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove, California: photo by Vern Fisher/AP, 11 December 2014

The world’s as the world is; the nations rearm and prepare to change; the age of tyrants returns;
The greatest civilization that has ever existed builds itself higher towers on breaking foundations.
Recurrent episodes; they were determined when the ape’s children first ran in packs, chipped flint to an edge.

I lie and hear dark rain beat the roof, and the blind wind.

                                                                                       In the morning
   perhaps I shall find strength again
To value the immense beauty of this time of the world, the flowers of decay their pitiful loveliness, the fever-dream
Tapestries that back the drama and are called the future. This ebb of vitality feels the ignoble and cruel
Incidents, not the vast abstract order.

                                                          I lie and hear dark rain beat the roof, and the night-blind wind.

In the Ventana country darkness and rain and the roar of waters fill the deep mountain-throats.
The creekside shelf of sand where we lay last August under a slip of stars
And firelight played on the leaning gorge-walls, is drowned and lost. The deer of the country huddle on a ridge
In a close herd under madrone-trees; they tremble when a rock-slide goes down, they open great darkness-
Drinking eyes and press closer.

                                              Cataracts of rock
Rain down the mountain from cliff to cliff and torment the stream-bed. The stream deals with them. The laurels are wounded,
Redwoods go down with their earth and lie thwart the gorge. I hear the torrent boulders battering each other,
I feel the flesh of the mountain move on its bones in the wet darkness.

                                                                                  Is this more beautiful
Than man’s disasters? These wounds will heal in their time; so will humanity’s. This is more night....

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962): Night Without Sleep, from Such Counsels You Gave Me (poems 1935-1938), 1938

The Pacific coast's strongest #storm in years pummeled #California and #Oregon: photo by Placer County Sheriff's Office /BBC Outside Source; image via World / MiddleE News @SnowhawkNL, 11 December 2014

Traffic moves slowly across the Golden Gate Bridge in the high winds and rain on Thursday, in this view from Sausalito: photo by Eric Risberg/AP, 11 December 2014

East Alisal St closed at Front in Salinas. Since it's under railroad overpass, I'm going to guess flooding #storm: image via Claudia Meléndez @MelendezSalinas, 11 December 2014

Posted 11am PST outside Reno, NV. #MonsterStorm MT @pauljharris: Overturned Semi near #Verdi on I-80: image via TWCBreaking @TWCBreaking, 11 Dceember 2014

Warmer MT @weatherchannel: #MonsterStorm Blowing dust makes for traffic mess #Bakersfield, CA: image via Rasta @NS Rasta, 11 December 2014

Too funny RT @bishopwsu: #MonsterStorm is getting real: image via Tiacuca @Tiacuca, 11 December 2014

#California #flooding RT @tkinsf: @NWSBayArea 280 near Colma. Already saw one car getting submerged #MonsterStorm: image via The Weather Channel @weatherchannel

Crazy flooding at Safeway #Healdsburg #Stormwatch: image by Mindy Joyce @MindyJoyce, 11 December 2014

 #BayAreaStorm avoid 101N near Menlo Park. @nbcbayarea #flood my VW survived the swim
: image via Conor Garrity @ConorGarrity, 11 December 2014

LaConchita residents are prepared to evacuate if there is another #mudslide here. #Stormwatch: image via Elex Michaelson @ABC7Elex, 11 December 2014

Storm News; More than 220K people are w/out power after rains & winds slammed N. #California: photo by Reuters; image via ACW @a_certain_woman, 11 December 2014

#Ventana en otra noche de insomnio: image via Julio Cesar @Ignotolefris, 10 December 2014


Mose23 said...

Is this more beautiful
Than man's disasters?

It's always a wonder: rain, that originary sign of vitality, wreaking such havoc.

The poem is astonishing.

TC said...

Well, that stone tower of his evidently kept out the wild elements fairly well.

While of course (as they were never far off) also letting them come rushing in to become poems, every now and again.

Every disaster in California is man-made, ultimately. More are on the way. Raining again now. People who last week cried drought, this week cry flood, mudslide.

In between, building project follows hard upon building project.

These hillsides were not naturally meant to be humming human beehives. The New Weather is now dramatically exposing that.

The neighbour's brightly lit ultimate overkill christmas display, a glitzy little Disneyland packed into a miniaturized Las Vegas, fairly begs to crackle up into a electrical conflagration, with each fresh gust of the monsoon through the shuddering masts.

Finally sense must have struck, and he shut it down. Next night, up again. New storm now, deep blackout.

Stegiel said...

This was the first poem of Jeffers I encountered and it was anthologized in a paperback of poetry and prose from the 30's. I read this poem to an audience outside a Sacramento cafe for the "World's Longest Poetry Reading" sometime round midnight of a summers eve in 1986.