Robinson Jeffers


The ebb slips from the rock, 
the sunken Tide-rocks lift streaming shoulders 
Out of the slack, the slow west 
Sombering its torch; a ship's light 
Shows faintly, far out,
Over the weight of the prone ocean 
On the low cloud. 

Over the dark mountain, over the dark pinewood, 
Down the long dark valley along the shrunken river, 
Returns the splendor without rays, the shining of shadow, 
Peace-bringer, the matrix of all shining and quieter of shining. 
Where the shore widens on the bay she opens dark wings 
And the ocean accepts her glory. O soul worshipful of her 
You like the ocean have grave depths where she dwells always, 
And the film of waves above that takes the sun takes also 
Her, with more love. The sun-lovers have a blond favorite, 
A father of lights and noises, wars, weeping and laughter, 
Hot labor, lust and delight and the other blemishes. Quietness 
Flows from her deeper fountain; and he will die; and she is 

Far off from here the slender 
Flocks of the mountain forest 
Move among stems like towers 
Of the old redwoods to the stream, 
No twig crackling; dip shy 
Wild muzzles into the mountain water 
Among the dark ferns. 
O passionately at peace you being secure will pardon 
The blasphemies of glowworms, the lamp in my tower, the 
Of cities, the cressets of the planets, the pride of the stars. 
This August night in a rift of cloud Antares reddens, 
The great one, the ancient torch, a lord among lost children, 
The earth's orbit doubled would not girdle his greatness, one fire 
Globed, out of grasp of the mind enormous; but to you O Night 
What? Not a spark? What flicker of a spark in the faint far 
Of a lost fire dying in the desert, dim coals of a sand-pit the 
Wandered from at dawn . . . Ah singing prayer to what gulfs 
Suddenly are you more lost? To us the near-hand mountain 
Be a measure of height, the tide-worn cliff at the sea-gate a 
measure of continuance. 

The tide, moving the night's 
Vastness with lonely voices, 
Turns, the deep dark-shining 
Pacific leans on the land, 
Feeling his cold strength 
To the outmost margins: you Night will resume 
The stars in your time. 

O passionately at peace when will that tide draw shoreward? 
Truly the spouting fountains of light, Antares, Arcturus, 
Tire of their flow, they sing one song but they think silence. 
The striding winter giant Orion shines, and dreams darkness. 
And life, the flicker of men and moths and the wolf on the hill, 
Though furious for continuance, passionately feeding, passionately 
Remaking itself upon its mates, remembers deep inward 
The calm mother, the quietness of the womb and the egg, 
The primal and the latter silences: dear Night it is memory 
Prophesies, prophecy that remembers, the charm of the dark. 
And I and my people, we are willing to love the four-score years 
Heartily; but as a sailor loves the sea, when the helm is for harbor. 
Have men's minds changed,
Or the rock hidden in the deep of the waters of the soul 
Broken the surface? A few centuries 
Gone by, was none dared not to people 
The darkness beyond the stars with harps and habitations. 
But now, dear is the truth. Life is grown sweeter and lonelier, 
And death is no evil.