Poetry

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.

Continent’s End

At the equinox when the earth was veiled in a late rain,
    wreathed with wet poppies, waiting spring,
The ocean swelled for a far storm and beat its boundary,
    the ground-swell shook the beds of granite.

I gazing at the boundaries of granite and spray,
     the established sea-marks, felt behind me
Mountain and plain, the immense breadth of the continent,
    before me the mass and double stretch of water.

I said: You yoke the Aleutian seal-rocks with the lava
    and coral sowings that flower the south,
Over your flood the life that sought the sunrise faces ours
    that has followed the evening star.

The long migrations meet across you and it is nothing to you,
    you have forgotten us, mother.
You were much younger when we crawled out of the womb
    and lay in the sun’s eye on the tideline.

It was long and long ago; we have grown proud since then
    and you have grown bitter; life retains
Your mobile soft unquiet strength; and envies hardness,
    the insolent quietness of stone.

The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
    life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
    that watched before there was an ocean.

That watched you fill your beds out of the condensation
    of thin vapor and watched you change them,
That saw you soft and violent wear your boundaries down,
    eat rock, shift places with the continents.

Mother, though my song’s measure is like your
    surf-beat’s ancient rhythm I never learned it of you.
Before there was any water there were tides of fire,
     both our tones flow from the older fountain.


Read more poems by Robinson Jeffers

from Tamar (1917-23)
Continent’s End
Divinely Superfluous Beauty
The Maid’s Thought
Natural Music
Shine, Perishing Republic
The Treasure (PF)
To the House (PF)
To the Stone-cutters

from Roan Stallion (1924-25)
Ante Mortem
Joy
Science

from The Women at Point Sur (1925-26)
Credo (PF)

from Cawdor (1926-28)
Bixby’s Landing (PF)
Hurt Hawks I and II
Tor House (PF)

from Dear Judas (1928-29)
Hands (PF)
Hooded Night (PF)
Inscription for a Gravestone (PF)

from Thurso’s Landing (1930-31)
November Surf
The Place for No Story (PF)

from Solstice (1933-35)
Gray Weather (PF)
Love the Wild Swan (PF)
Rock and Hawk (PF)
Shine, Republic (PF)

from Such Counsels You Gave to Me (1935-38)
The Answer (PF)
Night Without Sleep (PF)
Oh Lovely Rock (PF)

from Be Angry at the Sun (1938-41)
Be Angry at the Sun
The Bloody Sire (PF)
The Day is a Poem (PF)
For Una (PF)

from The Double Axe (1942-47)
Original Sin (PF)

from Hungerfield (1948-53)
The Beauty of Things (PF)
Carmel Point (PF)
The Deer Lay Down Their Bones (PF)

from Last Poems (1953-62)
Granddaughter (PF)