Cover image for The selected poetry of Robinson Jeffers
The selected poetry of Robinson Jeffers
Jeffers, Robinson, 1887-1962.
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
758 pages : portrait ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3519.E27 A6 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In 1938 Random House published The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers , a volume that would remain in print for more than fifty years. For decades it drew enough poets, students, and general readers to keep Jeffers--in spite of the almost total academic neglect that followed his fame in the 1920s and 1930s--a force in American poetry.
Now scholars are at last beginning to recognize that he created a significant alternative to the High Modernism of Pound, Eliot, and Stevens. Similarly, contemporary poets who have returned to the narrative poem acknowledge Jeffers to be a major poet, while those exploring California and the American West as literary regions have found in him a foundational figure. Moreover, Jeffers stands as a crucial precursor to contemporary attempts to rethink our practical, ethical, and spiritual obligations to the natural world and the environment.
These developments underscore the need for a new selected edition that would, like the 1938 volume, include the long narratives that were to Jeffers his major work, along with the more easily anthologized shorter poems. This new selected edition differs from its predecessor in several ways. When Jeffers shaped the 1938 Selected Poetry , he drew from his most productive period (1917-37), but his career was not over yet. In the quarter century that followed, four more volumes of his poetry were published. This new selected edition draws from these later volumes, and it includes a sampling of the poems Jeffers left unpublished, along with several prose pieces in which he reflects on his poetry and poetics.
This edition also adopts the texts of the recently completed The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (five volumes, Stanford, 1988-2000). When the poems were originally published, copy editors and typesetters adjusted Jeffers's punctuation, often obscuring the rhythm and pacing of what he actually wrote, and at points even obscuring meaning and nuance. This new selected edition, then, is a much broader, more accurate representation of Jeffers's career than the previous Selected Poetry .
Reviews of volumes in
The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers
"A masterful job of contemporary scholarly editing, this book begins an edition intended to clarify a 'Jeffers canon,' establishing for times to come the verse legacy of a poet who looked on all things with the eyes of eternity."-- San Francisco Chronicle
"This edition will be standard . . . a tribute and justice to a poet whose independent strength has survived to challenge personal and public canons."-- Virginia Quarterly Review
"Jeffers is the last of the major poets of his generation--Frost, Stevens, Williams, Pound, Moore, Eliot--to get his collected poems. Now that the job is at hand, it is done very well. . . . Tim Hunt has been painstaking in his editorial preparation and judicious in his presentation. . . . A great poet is ready for his due."-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Few American poets are treated as well by publishers as Jeffers is by Stanford University Press. . . . These poems represent a distinctive voice in the American canon, and it is good to have them so wonderfully set forth."-- Christian Century

Author Notes

Born in Pennsylvania, the son of a Presbyterian minister and Old Testament scholar, Jefferson attended school in Germany and Switzerland. After moving with his family to California in 1903, he graduated from Occidental College and also studied at the University of Southern California, the University of Zurich, and the University of Washington. Finally, after years of traveling, Jeffers settled with his wife on a wild, sea-beaten cliff at Carmel, California, in what was virtually a literary hermitage. There he set down the tragic folktales of northern California in ironic epic. Jeffers was a poet concerned with cruelty and horror, whose dramatic narratives are filled with scenes of blood and lust, and whose verse shows vigorous beauty and great originality. He was a poet who is not easily contained within the regular framework of literary history.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The somber and violent long-lined narratives of Robinson Jeffers remained so popular for so long that his Selected Poetry (1938) was in print for more than 50 years. It lacked any of the quarter-century's worth of poems Jeffers wrote after its publication, and even before it went out of print, Jeffers' reputation was reviving, thanks to younger poets who acknowledged his influence, such as Mark Jarman, and older poets of great prominence, such as Czeslaw Milosz, who testified to his power. Hence this volume that selects from all his work is most welcome. Besides poems from Jeffers' four post-1938 collections, five prose pieces Jeffers wrote about his poetry and 13 unpublished poems add nearly 200 pages to the size of the 1938 volume. The only significant works Hunt doesn't cull from are The Women at Point Sur (1927), the longest and, Hunt says, "most ambitious, complex, and difficult" of Jeffers' narratives, and the Euripidean adaptation, Medea (1946). A volume for the core of American literature collections. --Ray Olson

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Tamar 1917-23
To His Fatherp. 15
Suicide's Stonep. 16
Divinely Superfluous Beautyp. 17
The Excesses of Godp. 17
To the Stone-Cuttersp. 18
To the Housep. 18
Salmon Fishingp. 19
Natural Musicp. 19
Wise Men in Their Bad Hoursp. 20
To the Rock That Will Be a Cornerstone of the Housep. 21
The Cyclep. 22
Shine, Perishing Republicp. 23
Continent's Endp. 24
Tamarp. 26
Point Joep. 98
Gale in Aprilp. 99
The Treasurep. 100
Roan Stallion 1924-25
Birdsp. 103
Fogp. 104
Boats in a Fogp. 105
People and a Heronp. 106
Nightp. 107
Autumn Eveningp. 110
Joyp. 110
Phenomenap. 111
from The Tower Beyond Tragedy (final scene)p. 112
Roan Stallionp. 115
The Women at Point Sur 1925-26
Post Mortemp. 137
Clouds at Eveningp. 139
Pelicansp. 140
Apology for Bad Dreamsp. 141
Love-Childrenp. 145
Credop. 147
Preludep. 148
Cawdor 1926-28
Birth-Duesp. 159
The Broken Balancep. 160
Hurt Hawksp. 165
Bixby's Landingp. 167
An Artistp. 168
The Machinep. 171
Meditation on Saviorsp. 172
A Redeemerp. 178
Tor Housep. 181
Cawdorp. 182
Dear Judas 1928-29
Hooded Nightp. 297
Evening Ebbp. 298
Handsp. 298
The Loving Shepherdessp. 299
from Descent to the Deadp. 361
Shane O'Neill's Cairnp. 361
Ossian's Gravep. 362
The Broadstonep. 365
In the Hill at Newgrangep. 366
Ghosts in Englandp. 370
Inscription for a Gravestonep. 372
Subjected Earthp. 373
Notes to "Descent to the Dead"p. 375
The Bed by the Windowp. 376
Winged Rockp. 376
Thurso's Landing 1930-31
The Place for No Storyp. 379
New Mexican Mountainp. 380
November Surfp. 381
Margravep. 382
Fire on the Hillsp. 394
Give Your Heart to the Hawks 1931-33
A Little Scrapingp. 397
Triadp. 398
Still the Mind Smilesp. 399
Give Your Heart to the Hawksp. 400
Solstice 1933-35
Returnp. 499
Love the Wild Swanp. 500
The Cruel Falconp. 501
Distant Rainfallp. 501
Rock and Hawkp. 502
Shine, Republicp. 503
Sign-Postp. 504
Flight of Swansp. 505
from At the Birth of an Age (vision of the self-hanged God)p. 506
Gray Weatherp. 508
Red Mountainp. 509
Such Counsels You Gave to me 1935-38
Rearmamentp. 513
The Purse-Seinep. 514
The Wind-Struck Musicp. 516
Memoirp. 518
Novap. 520
The Answerp. 522
The Beaks of Eaglesp. 523
All the Little Hoof-Printsp. 524
Contemplation of the Swordp. 527
Oh Lovely Rockp. 529
October Week-Endp. 531
Steelhead, Wild Pig, The Fungusp. 532
Night without Sleepp. 541
Self-Criticism in Februaryp. 543
Shivap. 544
Now Returned Homep. 545
Theory of Truthp. 547
Be Angry at the Sun 1938-41
Faithp. 553
Come Little Birdsp. 554
The House-Dog's Gravep. 559
Prescription of Painful Endsp. 561
The Day Is a Poemp. 562
The Bloody Sirep. 563
The Stars Go over the Lonely Oceanp. 564
For Unap. 565
Drunken Charliep. 568
The Double Axe 1942-47
Pearl Harborp. 577
Advice to Pilgrimsp. 579
Cassandrap. 579
Historical Choicep. 580
Calm and Full the Oceanp. 581
The Blood-Guiltp. 582
Invasionp. 583
Original Sinp. 585
Orcap. 587
The Inquisitorsp. 589
Quia Absurdump. 591
The Inhumanist (Part II of The Double Axe)p. 592
Hungerfield 1948-53
Animalsp. 651
The Beauty of Thingsp. 652
Hungerfieldp. 653
Carmel Pointp. 676
De Rerum Virtutep. 677
The Deer Lay Down Their Bonesp. 680
Last Poems 1953-62
The Shearsp. 685
Patronymicp. 686
Birds and Fishesp. 687
Let Them Alonep. 688
"The unformed volcanic earth"p. 689
The Ocean's Tributep. 694
On an Anthology of Chinese Poemsp. 695
"The mathematicians and physics men"p. 696
Vulturep. 697
Granddaughterp. 698
The Epic Starsp. 699
"Goethe, they say, was a great poet"p. 700
Handp. 701
Oystersp. 702
"It nearly cancels my fear of death"p. 704
Preface, Tamar (1923)p. 707
Introduction, Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems (1935)p. 710
Foreword, The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (1938)p. 713
Preface, The Double Axe and Other Poems (original version, 1947)p. 719
Poetry, Gongorism, and a Thousand Years (1948)p. 723
Unpublished Poems
Aesthetics (1910)p. 731
The Palace (1914)p. 733
May 5, 1915 (1915)p. 735
Oblation/Testament (1918)p. 737
The Shore of Dreams (1919?)p. 738
The Hills Beyond the River (1919)p. 739
Doors to Peace (mid-1920s)p. 740
Forecast (1925)p. 742
Not a Laurel on the Place (1926)p. 743
Ninth Anniversary (1928)p. 744
Oct. 27 Lunar Eclipse--98% (On the Calendar) (1939)p. 745
Tragedy Has Obligations (1943)p. 746
Rhythm and Rhyme (1949)p. 747
Index of Titlesp. 749
Index of First Linesp. 752