Robinson Jeffers, Dimensions of a Poet

By Robert Brophy | Go to book overview

10
All Flesh Is Grass

William Everson

The voice said, Cry.
And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass,
And all the goodliness thereof
Is as the flower of the fields:…
Surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
But the word of our God shall stand forever.

Isaiah 40:6–8


CREATURE-CONSCIOUSNESS

“THE SATISFACTION THAT MEN TAKE in evidences of the life of nature and its power, and above all in surpassing manifestations of that power, is one of the perennial roots of religion” (Wilder 141). With these words Amos Wilder opens his chapter on “The Nihilism of Mr. Robinson Jeffers” in The Spiritual Aspects of the New Poetry.

If Jeffers ever read this book, it could not have pleased him, for he knew himself to be no nihilist, or one only in a very highly qualified and extended sense. But one part of the chapter must have given him delight. Wilder quotes from a scientist's report, The Vesuvius Eruption of 1906: Study of a Volcanic Cycle, written by a student of volcanic phenomena, Dr. Frank A. Perret. As Wilder presents the text in his extended quote, it is a fitting introduction to the central feature of our study:

Strongest of all impressions received in the course of these remark-
able events, greatest of all surprises…was, for the writer, that
of an infinite dignity in every manifestation of this stupendous
releasing of energy. No words can describe the majesty of its un-

-204-

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