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...


The Life and Times of Robinson Jeffers

  1. 1880s
    • 1887: John Robinson Jeffers is born near Pittsburgh.
    • Publicity from the Southern Pacific railroad company promises unique natural beauty and economic prosperity in California.
  2. 1890s
    • 1893: Unprecedented drop in U.S. gold supply causes a three-year nationwide depression.
    • 1894: Naturalist and conservationist John Muir publishes The Mountains of California as part of his ongoing effort to preserve the sublime Californian landscape from the ravages of industry.
    • 1898: Beginning of the Spanish-American War.
  3. 1900s
    • 1901: Theodore Roosevelt takes office as U.S. President.
    • 1903: Jack London’s The Call of the Wild published.
    • 1905: Jeffers graduates from Occidental College.
    • 1906: An earthquake registering 8.3 on the Richter scale wreaks havoc across the San Francisco Bay area.
  4. 1910s
    • Jeffers’s first book, Flagons and Apples, is published in 1912; Jeffers marries Una Call Kuster in 1913.
    • World War I erupts in Europe in 1914; America enters in 1917.
    • 1918: Armistice signed November 11, ending World War I. The Treaty of Versailles is signed the following year by President Woodrow Wilson.
  5. 1920s
    • Southern California experiences an oil boom and a population surge, leaving Los Angeles the most motorized city in the USA.
    • 1925: Jeffers’s acclaimed collection, Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems, is published.
    • 1927: Charles Lindbergh makes history by flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
  6. 1930s
    • Jeffers publishes several collections of poetry.
    • 1932: Due to the Great Depression, unemployment in California hits 28 percent.
    • 1933: John Steinbeck’s To a God Unknown is published, a novel influenced by Jeffers.
    • 1939: Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II in Europe.
  7. 1940s
    • 1941: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings the U.S. into World War II.
    • 1945: The war ends after claiming upwards of fifty million lives worldwide.
    • 1947: Jeffers’s translation of Euripides’s Medea opens on Broadway to critical acclaim.
    • 1948: George Orwell’s 1984 published.
  8. 1950s
    • 1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy brandishes a list of alleged communists in the State Department, heralding the dawn of the Cold War.
    • 1952: Ansel Adams and other artists found Aperture magazine, dedicated to the art and technique of photography.
    • 1954: Hungerfield and Other Poems published.
  9. 1960s
    • 1961: John F. Kennedy takes office as U.S. President; construction of the Berlin Wall begins.
    • 1962: Jeffers dies at Tor House on January 20.
    • 1963: The Beginning and the End and Other Poems is published posthumously as Jeffers’s final work.
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