Shine, Perishing Republic: Robinson Jeffers and the Tragic Sense in Modern Poetry

Shine, Perishing Republic: Robinson Jeffers and the Tragic Sense in Modern Poetry

Shine, Perishing Republic: Robinson Jeffers and the Tragic Sense in Modern Poetry

Shine, Perishing Republic: Robinson Jeffers and the Tragic Sense in Modern Poetry

Excerpt

These essays, it is hoped, will introduce new readers to Robinson Jeffers. A poet of his power sees with a too complex vision "the spiritual realities to which the material realities correspond" to be understood by proxy. Only by a daring leap into the midst of the foaming, resounding storm-waves of his titanic poems can the reader become sensible of the "divine vision in time of trouble" of Robinson Jeffers. For he, like Blake, will never be among our popular poets. They remain ever the poets of those seekers of the élan mystique in poetry, that quality which is outside its delicacy or its force, its verbal beauty or its rhythmic cadence, its lyric song or its tragic cry. The poetry of a Blake or a Jeffers is marked by too many obscure figures of speech and too few clear narratives to make a general appeal. We may emphasize the unpopularity of Blake, Crane, Jeffers and T. S. Eliot with the words of Eliot himself: "the genuineness of poetry is something which we have some warrant for believing that a small number, but only a small number, of contemporary readers can recognize. I say positively only a small number, because it seems probable that when any poet conquers a really large public in his lifetime, an increasing proportion of his admirers will admire him for extraneous reasons." Yet to those few who . . .

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