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.
Man, introverted man, having crossed
In passage and but a little with the nature
of things this latter century
Has begot giants; but being taken up
Like a maniac with self-love and inward conflicts
cannot manage his hybrids.
Being used to deal with edgeless dreams,
Now he’s bred knives on nature turns them also inward:
they have thirsty points though.
His mind forebodes his own destruction;
Actaeon who saw the goddess naked among leaves
and his hounds tore him.
A little knowledge, a pebble from the shingle,
A drop from the oceans: who would have dreamed
this infinitely little too much?
from The Women at Point Sur (1925-26)
from The Double Axe (1942-47)
Original Sin (PF)
from Last Poems (1953-62)