Solstice and Other Poems (1935)

Solstice and Other Poems represents a crucial turn in the career—or ministry—of Robinson Jeffers.

The title narrative Solstice (CP vol. 2) is the one of Jeffers’ shorter narrative poems. In spite of its brevity, Robinson Jeffers chose not to include Solstice in his Selected Poetry (1938). Tim Hunt would later make the same choice (Selected Poetry, 2001). The volume did include the previously published lyrics Return and , and also introduced some noteworthy lyrics, including Love the Wild Swan, Distant Rainfall, Gray Weather, and Ave Caesar.

Gray Weather and Distant Rainfall show the poet’s willingness to invest fully in subconscious association. The subjective influence of a gray day utterly changes the reality of the mind. Jeffers describes this not by describing the experience as subjective, but by describing the influence of the weather as objective fact.

In a similar manner, Distant Rainfall depicts the detailed impressions that phenomena can conjure up in the mind. The poet does not make the mistake of explaining that the mind generates associations seemingly spontaneously, but rather takes the reader on a journey into the real realm of free association—not a thought-game, but a natural activity of the human mind. The poem does not merely describe the images as though on a canvas, but rather brings them deep into the heart of the reader, and by this means, into the mournful heart of the poet, and possibly gives us a glimpse into the immediate thoughts of the emotive mind.

The collection also included the short poem Rearmament, for this was the time of the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. Hitler had announced the enlargement of the German army on March 16, 1934. The German army would have 4.5 million stormtroopers by the end of that year.


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