January 14, 1987 |
Thin-lipped, blue-eyed, without grace or hope, before God the Terrible, body of the world. Prayers are not heard. Basalt and granite. Above them, a bird of prey. The only beauty. What have I to do with you? . . . --"To Robinson Jeffers" by Czeslaw Milosz Czeslaw Milosz, the Lithuanian-born poet who won the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature, has "ambiguous" feelings toward Robinson Jeffers, a Carmel poet who died in 1962 but whose ideas spark controversy even today.
January 22, 1987 |
Poet Robinson Jeffers, who wrote about the tragic fate of man and the savage grandeur of nature, is arguably the most famous alumnus of Occidental College. Not surprisingly, Occidental College has long proclaimed its pride in Jeffers, who was graduated in 1905 and whom some scholars call one of the top 10 American poets of the 20th Century. The school has amassed one of the country's top three collections of Jeffers' poetry, manuscripts, love letters and photographs. Jeffers scholar Robert J.
October 29, 2000 |
I Asked to name France's greatest poet, Baudelaire is said to have replied: "Victor Hugo, unfortunately." If this irony was apt to 19th-century France, it perhaps applies as well to 20th-century California, whose greatest poet, unfortunately, was Robinson Jeffers. Like Hugo, Jeffers has slipped into literary limbo. His reputation has fallen so far since his death in 1962 that when I recently asked about Jeffers in a Berkeley bookstore, the clerk had barely heard of him.
September 6, 2009 |
Big Sur, the 90 or so miles of rugged Pacific coast that unfurls south of Monterey, is known for pricey, reservations-only restaurants and as a capital of the New Age movement. It's a place, then, for well-fed people to get in touch with their inner selves in a spectacular natural setting. But before the arrival of $120 prix fixe dinners, before the human potential movement was founded at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur was associated with one of America's most austere and, for a while, famous artists.
September 13, 2009
Well done, Scott Timberg ["A Poetic Path," Sept. 6]. I've read a lot about the coast, having been born and reared here and living here still, and having written about it (and poet Robinson Jeffers) a good bit. The piece is very well observed and well expressed. Erin Gafill Big Sur
January 20, 2012 |
Here's a cosmic truism: The end of the Earth is just another item on the universe's to-do list. The poet Robinson Jeffers understood this reality. That such a perspective need not be bleak is something he spent decades telling readers. Until his death on Jan. 20, 1962 -- 50 years ago -- Jeffers celebrated the "transhuman magnificence" of nature, the beautiful things both vast and near that can provide even a 21st century reader with solace, even if we are often a muddled, ugly species and even if all things, as they do, fade away.