National Endowment of 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)

The Life and Times of Robinson Jeffers

1880s
John Robinson Jeffers is born near Pittsburgh, 1887.
Publicity from the Southern Pacific railroad company promises unique natural beauty and economic prosperity in California.

1890s
Unprecedented drop in U.S. gold supply causes a three-year nationwide depression, 1893.
Scottish immigrant John Muir publishes The Mountains of California as part of his ongoing effort to preserve the sublime Californian landscape from the ravages of industry, 1894.
Beginning of the Spanish-American War, 1898.

1900s
Theodore Roosevelt takes office as U.S. President, 1901.
Jack London’s The Call of the Wild published, 1903.
Jeffers graduates from Occidental College, 1905.
An earthquake registering 8.3 on the Richter scale wreaks havoc across the San Francisco Bay area, 1906.

1910s
Jeffers’s first book, Flagons and Apples, is published, 1912; Jeffers marries Una Call Kuster, 1913.
World War I erupts in Europe, 1914; America enters in 1917.
Armistice signed November 11, 1918, ending World War I. The Treaty of Versailles is signed the following year by President Woodrow Wilson, 1919.

1920s
Southern California experiences an oil boom and a population surge, leaving Los Angeles the most motorized city in the USA.
Jeffers’s acclaimed collection, Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems, is published, 1925.
Charles Lindbergh makes history by flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean, 1927.

1930s
Jeffers publishes several collections of poetry.
Due to the Great Depression, unemployment in California hits 28 percent, 1932.
John Steinbeck’s To a God Unknown is published, a novel influenced by Jeffers, 1933.
Adolf Hitler’s Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II in Europe, 1939.

1940s
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings the U.S. into World War II, 1941.
The war ends after claiming upwards of fifty million lives worldwide, 1945.
Jeffers’s translation of Euripides’s Medea opens on Broadway to critical acclaim, 1947.
George Orwell’s 1984 published, 1949.

1950s
Senator Joseph McCarthy brandishes a list of alleged communists in the State Department, heralding the dawn of the Cold War, 1950.
Ansel Adams and other artists found Aperture magazine, dedicated to the art and technique of photography, 1952.
Hungerfield and Other Poems published, 1954.

1960s
John F. Kennedy takes office as U.S. President; construction of the Berlin Wall begins, 1961.
Jeffers dies at Tor House on January 20, 1962.
The Beginning and the End and Other Poems is published posthumously as Jeffers’s final work, 1963.

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