At one time, Jeffers was quite the rage, but by the time he died in 1962 he fallen almost completely out of fashion. Today he is mostly known as an early environmentalist. Nonetheless, his best work is still fresh, and as today is Monday, here’s a sample. The only thing out-of-date in this poem is ‘milch cow’ for milk cow and some odd punctuation:
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses–
How beautiful when we first beheld it.
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rock heads–
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite.
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. –As for us
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
While I have a selected poems that Robert Hass edited, this was from an anthology called A Book of Luminous Things, edited by Czesław Miłosz. In the introduction, it seems he’s created his own selection of radically accessible poetry: “My proposition consists in presenting poems…that are, with few exceptions, short clear, readable and, to use a compromised term, realist… Thus they undermine the widely held opinion that poetry is a misty domain eluding understanding.” So it seems appropriate to include this here.