National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

by Robinson Jeffers

Permanent things, or things forever renewed, like the grass and human passions, are the material for poetry...


Robinson Jeffers, 1948 (Photo by Nat Farbman/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

  1. Robinson Jeffers studied literature, philosophy, medicine, and forestry in graduate school. How do these four areas of study inform the subject matter and style of Jeffers’s poetry?
  2. Jeffers and his wife, Una, discovered the coast of Carmel to be their “inevitable place.” How does this landscape inform his poetry? Where is your “inevitable place”?
  3. What parallels can you imagine between the building of a stone house and the writing of a poem? Can you find examples of this parallel in Jeffers’s poetry?
  4. Many mammals and birds— especially the red-tailed hawk and the falcon—appear in Jeffers’s poetry. While his allusions to animals are certainly literal, what symbolic possibilities exist in poems such as “Rock and Hawk” or “Hurt Hawks”?
  5. in his poem “Carmel Point,” Jeffers declares that “people are a tide / That swells and in time will ebb, and all / Their works dissolve.” How poignant is the parallel Jeffers makes between the human race and the tide?
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