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.

November Surf

Some lucky day each November great waves awake
    and are drawn
Like smoking mountains bright from the west
And come and cover the cliff with white violent cleanness:
    then suddenly
The old granite forgets half a year’s filth:
The orange-peel, egg-shells, papers, pieces of clothing,
    the clots
Of dung in corners of the rock, and used
Sheaths that make light love safe in the evenings: all
    the droppings of the summer
Idlers washed off in a winter ecstasy:
I think this cumbered continent envies its cliff then….
    But all seasons
The earth, in her childlike prophetic sleep,
Keeps dreaming of the bath of a storm that prepares up
    the long coast
Of the future to scour more than her sea-lines:
The cities gone down, the people fewer and the hawks
    more numerous,
The rivers mouth to source pure; when the two-footed
Mammal, being someways one of the nobler animals, regains
The dignity of room, the value of rareness.


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)