Although Jeffers occasionally published in literary journals, most of his poems appeared first in book-length collections. The dates for the poems presented on this website come from those appearances in books. Those interested in delving more deeply into the textual history of the poems should consult Volume 5 of The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, edited by Tim Hunt (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), which includes detailed manuscript and publication history of every poem.
The following poems are organized chronologically by their first appearance in a book by Jeffers and are reproduced with permission of Stanford University Press on this RJA site or at PoetryFoundation.org (PF). Excerpts of prose writings by Jeffers also are available on this site.
Shine, Perishing Republic
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops
and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit,
the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good,
be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from
the thickening center; 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.
from The Women at Point Sur (1925-26)
from The Double Axe (1942-47)
Original Sin (PF)
from Last Poems (1953-62)