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Selected Poems

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  358 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Robinson Jeffers died in 1962 at the age of seventy-five, ending one of the most controversial poetic careers of this century.

The son of a theology professor at Western Seminary in Pittsburgh, Jeffers was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as a boy, and spent three years in Germany and Switzerland before entering the University of Western Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh) at fift
Paperback, 128 pages
Published August 12th 1965 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1963)
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Bill  Kerwin
Mar 26, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry

At first glance, poet Robinson Jeffers—born in 1887—might look like some kind of early beatnik or proto-hippie. An environmentalist, he wrote lyrically about the beauties of the California coast, and believed nature should be seen as the center of all; a seeker of truth, he was impressed by the personality of the theosophical “guru” Krishnamurti; a pacifist, he made himself highly unpopular by his opposition to World War II. Both environmental anarchist Edward Abbey (author of The Monkey Wrench
Feb 04, 2008 Doug rated it it was amazing
In my view Jeffers deserves the widest possible readership. Stark, sweeping, eagle-eyed verse. To the bone. 'Shine, Perishing Republic' and 'Cassandra' stand out.
Feb 10, 2012 Dirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When he was alive I paid very little attention to Robinson Jeffers. My attention to poetry was taken up with American poets who wove a tighter fabric of meaning or at least of implication: Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound. But picking Jeffers up in 2011 I enjoyed and respected his verse. Early in this selection it is metrical and resonant. It has gut satisfaction. It is straightforward. He is resonant in denunciation. That's no small virtue. I think of 18th-century poets li ...more
Andrew Sydlik
Jan 22, 2010 Andrew Sydlik rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Andrew by: Don Wentworth
Shelves: poetry
At the end of the book, I was even more impressed than when I had begun. Honestly, I was going to give this 4 stars instead of 5, because some of the earlier poems are so-so, or have awkward moments. But he really bloomed as the years went on, despite the fact that his popularity took an opposite turn. I rarely feel the sensation that Emily Dickinson said indicates good poetry, feeling like the top of your head has been blown off. But I felt this from a number of Jeffers' poems.

Jeffers took a ha
Sep 29, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poet. People following contemporary politics.
Recommended to Robert by: William Everson
I'm not aware of any political poetry more astute than Jeffers'. No poet saw and wrote as clearly of the consequences of our interdependency and the monsters our cities would become. His portraits of the natural world are rare in their clarity—without any sentimentality or the banality that frames our current discussions of nature and the "natural" world. A hard but lovely view of life, cruel and beautiful. When he thought of Mother Nature, classically schooled Jeffers, never forgot mothers such ...more
C. Derick
Sep 05, 2015 C. Derick rated it it was amazing
This is a nice, brief introduction to the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Jeffers is an under-appreciated American poet--partly from his opposition to the world wars and partly because his naturalism veers into anti-humanism. Like Whitman, he is a master of a longer line, but he has far more control over his lines than most Whitman-esque poets nor does he share the humanism of American poets like Whitman, Sandburg, and Ginsburg. In many ways, his poetry has the bleak beauty of the West Coast: jagged ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is my first real Robinson Jeffers reading (aside from random class-assigned poems), and is already one of my favorite poets. He called the Big Sur region home, and perhaps that's why he resonates with me, as I have a recently acquired particular love for that stretch of mid-California coastal gorgeousness (helped in part by Jack Kerouac's Big Sur).

His themes consistently cover nature, the sea, God (both the existence of and a lack thereof), and mankind--its hypocrisies, its created conflict
Feb 18, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first volume of Jeffers' poetry that I have read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. To begin, his straightforward verse is at once beautiful, and absolutely descriptive. I recently drove down California 1, and reading some of these poems, I felt as if Jeffers described exact places that I stopped and took in. His clear love of nature and place is the true gift of this poetry, and outweighs the sometimes paranoid view of the future and our country's role in it.

The first poem, "To the Stone
Creighton Brown
Jul 29, 2008 Creighton Brown rated it it was amazing

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and deca-
dence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stub-
bornly long or suddenly
A m
Nov 26, 2009 Helen rated it it was amazing
I found this slim volume on the bookshelf of the home we are staying in in Carmel. I had been meaning to visit Tor House while we were here and now hope that perhaps I will before we leave.

Along with the book I found a Reader's Guide published by The National Endowment of the Arts in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation in an effort called The Big Read. I encourage anyone who sees this to visit their site at It is an amazing site filled with books of all kinds and informa
Jerome Peterson
Nov 09, 2014 Jerome Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Selected Poems”
By Robinson Jeffers
May 24, 2014

Jeffers has a unique way of telling a story, usually dramatic, by way of a poem. His style is sharp and vivid and puts the reader into an environment that he chooses. Not only are his writings radical but invigorating as well for the reader. His descriptions of stoic crags, rocks and the shoreline of the Pacific were not only poignant but refreshing as well as on the spot. I enjoyed Stone Cutters, The Eye, Cassandra and so many more. To any poet or
J. Alfred
May 24, 2010 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing
I have never felt so much radical ambivalance toward a poet. If you want to read poems that are the poetic equivalant of being hit with rocks, read this dude. He is seriously amazing. And hates God. And does a better job of articulating and defending the position of the rational, "manly" atheist than anyone I've ever come across, except for maybe Camus and/or professor Lewis (the "manly" bit is his quote, read about it in Mere Christianity).
Unapologetic, brave, and utterly hopeless.

"Surely one
Shawn Aldridge
Nov 22, 2007 Shawn Aldridge rated it it was amazing
Read the poem Hurt Hawks.

Nov 09, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robinson Jeffers thinks of life like a kid who can’t play basketball, and now wants to ban the sport. He’s a man constantly dreaming of death, but in a twist of irony, he didn’t kill himself or completely stop eating. I guess death isn’t so fun when you can’t dream about it.

Jeffers’ Freudian “Death Drive” must have been in overdrive. Even Schopenhauer would have talked Jeffers back from the ledge. Jeffers poetry suffers from a breathtakingly mellifluous denial of the human situation. While Jeffe
Colin Bailes
Sep 20, 2010 Colin Bailes rated it really liked it
Despite this book of poems being just over one hundred pages it took me awhile to finish it. I read the first half in a year, and then the second half in about two weeks. The poems in this collection are in chronological order and span the lifework of Jeffers. It’s obvious to me that Jeffers really picked up in his later years; although, the poems written when he was younger are still good. Jeffers’ insights and wisdom are brilliant, no matter how misanthropic, and each poem contains a unique qu ...more
Jan 15, 2012 Alison rated it did not like it
Making space on the bookshelves and trying to be brutal with myself in my attempt to give stuff away... I've hung onto this since college, but in truth, I don't remember a single poem from it, (one about birds, maybe?) And I know I'll never delve into it again.

I DID come away from the Contemporary American Poetry class with an appreciation for other poets I'd never heard of before then, such as William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. But poor ol' Jeffers is getting the boot from my persona
Jun 23, 2013 Martin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
It was more than several years after I had left school, that I discovered that poetry could simply be read for pleasure, that it did not need to be analyzed to be enjoyed. It was the poetry of Robinson Jeffers that opened that gateway for me. Poems such as Hurt Hawks, The bed by the window, and The World's Wonders showed me that poetry could be as simple and sharp as the edge of a knife. I can honestly say that I think if more people read his poetry, the world would be a better place.
Mar 22, 2011 Wanda rated it it was amazing
You have to be in the right mood to read Jeffers--a little tired, a little melancholy, a little pessimistic. And only read a little of him at a time, if you don't want to be forced into utter despair. So this is a little book of Jeffers, and that's good. Though even at times reading this one, you just want to say to old Robby, Geez, lighten up. Have a beer. Get laid. Go play catch with your dog. Gossip with a friend. Listen to Fibber McGee and Molly on the radio....
Kevin Summers
Mar 29, 2014 Kevin Summers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I understand why Jeffers is one of Bukowski's favorite poets.

Sample quote from "Cassandra:"


Truly men hate the truth; ...
Therefore the poets honey their truth with lying; but
Venders and political men
Pour from the barrel, new lies on the old, and are praised for kindly
Wisdom. Poor bitch, be wise.


I can think of a few people who fit the bill.
Mad But Magic YA Blog

from “Hurt Hawks”:
I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that
trailed under his talons when he moved.
Ron Wallace
Feb 09, 2008 Ron Wallace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Again any man who thinks poetry isn't worth the time.
Recommended to Ron by: Chuck Ladd
Shelves: top-shelf
I picked this up on ebay before Christmas. I've always loved Jeffers poems. "Hurt Hawks" is another one of those poems that may rank among the best work ever. This is a great representative collectionof his work, glad I stumbled across it.
Robert Posey
Sep 17, 2014 Robert Posey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good way to get to know shorter poems of Robinson Jeffers. I hand this out to people who want to know why he's my favorite poet. The shorter poems are a pathway into his long narrative poems.
Dayna Smith
Feb 09, 2014 Dayna Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A small booklet of some of Jeffers' most famous and moving poetry. A controversial poet, but nevertheless a national treasure. Tor House, Roan Stallion, Carmel Point, and Una are particularly moving.
Dec 14, 2010 James added it
Tremendous work in an unbelievably small space. My copy became essentially on giant dog-ear. Although, a little preachy in parts, the overall tone of the indictment of the 20th century was pitch-perfect.
Aug 29, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: solid poetry
Shelves: poetry-corner
This collection features "Roan Stallion", one of Jeffers' best works. I don't know how to describe his poetry but its very powerful. Put down that stupid Patti Smith collection and read a real poet.
Rama Bauer
Dec 23, 2009 Rama Bauer rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, Robinson Jeffers is the greatest American poet of the 20th Century. A true visionary and a good antidote to the hollow,Panglossian optimism that our society holds so sacred.
Eugen Hubbs
Feb 25, 2009 Eugen Hubbs rated it it was amazing
My absolute favorite poet. I think everyone should be exposed to his works. Amazingly insightful.
Fabulous Poet. Introduced to him by reading Charles Bukowski.
Nov 17, 2010 Kristen rated it it was ok
I tried. I really did. I just couldn't finish these poems.
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John Robinson Jeffers (January 10, 1887 – January 20, 1962) 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.

The largest collections of Jeffers' manuscripts and materials are in the Harry Ransom Huma
More about Robinson Jeffers...

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“As for me, I would rather be a worm in a wild apple than a son of man. But we are what we are, and we might remember not to hate any person, for all are vicious; And not to be astonished at any evil, all are deserved; And not to fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed.” 24 likes
“While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire, I
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops
and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make
fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Qut of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life
is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than
mountains: shine, perishing republic.

But for my children. I would have them keep their dis-
tance from the thickening center; corruption.
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the
monster’s feet there are left the mountajns.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man,
a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught
-–they say--God, when he walked on earth.”
More quotes…