Magazine article California History

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Magazine article California History

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Article excerpt

Some people never knew that the poet Robinson Jeffers had ascended to spectacular literary prominence, and that he also had departed from acclaim. Some never knew he was featured on Time magazine's cover or viewed by his contemporaries as the nation's leading and path-breaking poet, structuring formidable and imposing lyrical and narrative poems. Some would point to a particular irony: though many of Jeffers' poems were inspired by ancient mythology and biblical lessons, the poet's surroundings on the central California coast, close to his home, provided the settings and content for much of his verse.

And to some people, the mellifluous name Robinson Jeffers was familiar, but nothing more than that. Famously, fame is fleeting, but in Jeffers' case, it seems a shame that appreciation of his work, his passion, his erudition, and his daring was lost or unknown to us for many years.

"Your returnings," Jeffers wrote about the resurgence of nature, "are even more precious than your first presence." The line of verse, which concludes his poem "Bixby's Landing," seems prophetic, for in the past decade, a new admiration for Jeffers has flowered. In celebration of that regeneration, we devote this issue to reintroducing Jeffers to our readers by placing the poet in literary, historical, and cultural perspectives.

The development, ascendance, and turnaround of Jeffers' literary fortunes are unmasked by James Karman in "An Uncommon Voice. …

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