Remember when poets made the cover of Time? It’s too bad the reputation ofRobinson Jeffers has pretty much disappeared; but read any of the following poems aloud and see if you don’t hear something brutal, beautiful, and essential. While heseems to have staked his reputation on the longer narratives that pretty well fill his Collected Poetry, it’s his small, powerful lyrics that strike me as being as good as anything ever written.
INSCRIPTION FOR A GRAVESTONE
I am not dead, I have only become inhuman:
That is to say,
Undressed myself of laughable prides and infirmities,
But not as a man
Undresses to creep into bed, but like an athlete
Stripping for the race.
The delicate ravel of nerves that made me a measurer
Of certain fictions
Called good and evil; that made me contract with pain
And expand with pleasure;
Fussily adjusted like a little…
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