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Robinson Jeffers

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

Robinson Jeffers
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John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Most of Jeffers' poetry was written in classic narrative and epic form, but today he is also known for his short verse, and considered an icon of the environmental movement.

Life

Jeffers was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh), the son of a Presbyterian minister and biblical scholar, Reverend Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers, and Annie Robinson Tuttle. His brother was Hamilton Jeffers, who became a well-known astronomer, working at Lick Observatory. His family was supportive of his interest in poetry. He traveled through Europe during his youth and ... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''If civilization goes down, that
    Would be an event to contemplate.
    It will not be in our time, alas, my dear,
    It will not be in our time.''
    Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), U.S. poet. May—June, 1940 (l. 22-25). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Ha...
  • It would be better for men
    To be few and live far apart, where none could infect another; then
    slowly the sanity of field and mountain
    And the cold ocean and glittering stars migh...
    Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), U.S. poet. May—June, 1940 (l. 5-7). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Harc...
  • ''the dive-bomber's screaming orgasm
    As beautiful as other passions;''
    Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), U.S. poet. May—June, 1940 (l. 12-13). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Ha...
  • ''And why do you cry, my dear, why do you cry?
    It is all in the whirling circles of time.
    If millions are born millions must die,''
    Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), U.S. poet. May—June, 1940 (l. 16-18). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Ha...
  • ''They dance with reluctance, they are growing civilized; the old men
    persuade them.''
    Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), U.S. poet. New Mexican Mountain (l. 4). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Cla...
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Comments about Robinson Jeffers

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  • Anthony White (9/12/2011 1:23:00 PM)

    In a strange way, his lack of popularity is probably a testimony to his insight; people are shy of hearing what disagrees with the common view. His ability to look beyond the tepid matters of today reminds me of the work of David Jones, someone else maturing gently in obscurity.

  • Yacov Mitchenko (7/19/2010 11:53:00 PM)

    Robinson Jeffers is a criminally underrated poet, easily the equal of Eliot and Frost (and in my view a better poet than either) . 'Hurt Hawks' and 'Vulture' are among the best animals poems I have read in the language. He's a formidable epic poet, and is generally more successful than the other major English poets at long narratives.

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