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Cawdor

Cawdor is a 20th Century California retelling of a Greek classic, which gives it critical gravitas, to be sure. On the other hand, Cawdor seems conceptually modest, perhaps a result of the poor critical reception of the megalomaniacal Women at Point Sur. This conservative turn may be meritorious in that it shows Jeffers turning to the art of storytelling in lieu of more grandiose prophetic or philosophical ambitions.

Dear Judas

Dear Judas was a controversial flop, but this was to be expected inasmuch as it depicted Jesus as an aspiring savior who ultimately succumbed to a megalomaniacal God complex, his love for mankind a sort of lust for possession beyond the reach of mere power mongering. Clearly, the subject of Jesus gave Jeffers a stage on which he could put love on trial. Meanwhile, the poem saw Judas as the most devout of Christians.

The Broken Balance

This poem is a rewriting of The Trumpet (January 1928). Much of the first, second, and final sections of The Broken Balance were taken directly from The Trumpet, though some of those three sections feature significant changes. It may be an improvement on the previous poem, or it may not. In either case it is not the same poem.

The more significant changes to the retained sections are as follows.

Metric of Stone

The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it. (Habakkuk 2:11)

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40)

Burnt Offerings

Several years ago, I realized for the first time that the poetry of Robinson Jeffers is suffused with fire. This, I soon realized, had been noticed by at least a couple others: Jeffers scholar James Karman and Swedish professor of literature Gunnar Axberger. Karman had mentioned it in passing; Axberger wrote a research paper on it.[i]

Wish List: Selected Narratives

I've been thinking for a while about ideal anthologies. Sometimes it seems that mixing long and short poems tends to make an anthology hard to browse, and the reader can have difficulty setting a pace. One solution is to divide an anthology into separate volumes of long and short poems. Here's one possible listing of longer poems, adding up to about 514 pages of verse (using Tim Hunt's page layout).

Thomas Hardy and Inhumanism

… there may be in him also a secret admiration for indifference, for power without feeling as opposed to human feeling without power—for the transcendence of human imperfection by the perfection of absolute zero. There is perhaps a secret longing to be free of choice and concern, the unshakable aspects of human existence, and to ally himself with the workings of inhuman will.

Thoor Ballylee and the Tor Tower

To be carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee

I, the poet William Yeats,
With old mill boards and sea-green slates,
And smithy work from the Gort forge,
Restored this tower for my wife George;
And may these characters remain
When all is ruin once again.

Yeats restored an old Irish tower for his wife, and then
Jeffers built a stone tower for his.

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