Poet and playwright John Robinson Jeffers was born on this day in 1887. Jeffers died in 1962 at the age of seventy-five, ending one of the most controversial poetic careers of this century.
“Be Angry At The Sun “by Robinson Jeffers
“That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.
Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.
You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.”
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 fifteen. His education continued on the West Coast after his parents moved there, and he received a B.A. from Occidental College at eighteen. His interest in forestry, medicine, and general science led him to pursue his studies at the University of Southern California, and the University of Zurich.
The poems in this volume have been selected from his major works, among them Be Angry at the Sun; Hungerfield; The Double Axe; Roan Stallion; Tamar and Other Poems; as well as The Beginning and the End, which contains his last poems.