Robinson Jeffers

(10 January 1887 – 20 January 1962 / Allegheny, Pennsylvania)

Birth-Dues Poem by Robinson Jeffers


Joy is a trick in the air; pleasure is merely
contemptible, the dangled
Carrot the ass follows to market or precipice;
But limitary pain -- the rock under the tower
and the hewn coping
That takes thunder at the head of the turret-
Terrible and real. Therefore a mindless dervish
carving himself
With knives will seem to have conquered the world.


The world's God is treacherous and full of
unreason; a torturer, but also
The only foundation and the only fountain.
Who fights him eats his own flesh and perishes
of hunger; who hides in the grave
To escape him is dead; who enters the Indian
Recession to escape him is dead; who falls in
love with the God is washed clean
Of death desired and of death dreaded.


He has joy, but Joy is a trick in the air; and
pleasure, but pleasure is contemptible;
And peace; and is based on solider than pain.
He has broken boundaries a little and that will
estrange him; he is monstrous, but not
To the measure of the God.... But I having told
you--
However I suppose that few in the world have
energy to hear effectively-
Have paid my birth-dues; am quits with the
people.


Submitted by Holt

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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