Friday, April 25, 2008

BillyBlog's Favorite Poems, #6 ("Rock and Hawk" by Robinson Jeffers)

Robinson Jeffers is one of the best underrated poets of the 20th Century. Perhaps I am biased due to my being a fellow alumnus from Occidental College (he was the original oxypoet) , but his work stands the test of time, as a truly amazing California poet.

In 1987, when I was a sophomore at Occidental, the college celebrated Jeffers' centennial. I was too busy being preoccupied with being a college student to appreciate it, or attend any of the centennial events, but I managed to salvage and keep a poster that marked the occasion.

[Come to think of it, I haven't seen it in a while. Could it have been lost along with my Ferlinghetti? That would suck.]

Anyway, here is the poem:

Rock and Hawk
by Robinson Jeffers

Here is a symbol in which

Many high tragic thoughts

Watch their own eyes.

This gray rock, standing tall

On the headland, where the seawind

Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured

By ages of storms: on its peak

A falcon has perched.

I think, here is your emblem

To hang in the future sky;

Not the cross, not the hive,

But this; bright power, dark peace;

Fierce consciousness joined with final


Life with calm death; the falcon's

Realist eyes and act

Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone,

Which failure cannot cast down

Nor success make proud.
See the Occidental online resource center here.

Previous Favorite Poems for National Poetry Month:

#7 - "Nostalgia" by Billy Collins
#8 - "A Piece of the Storm" by Mark Strand
#9A - "The Colonel" by Carolyn Forché and
#9B - "may i feel said he" by e.e.cummings

#10 - "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps" by Galway Kinnell
#11 - "Symposium" by Paul Muldoon
#12 - "Poem for the Class of..." by Max Eberts
#13 - "Boss of the Food" by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
#14 - "Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Plath
#15 - "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop
#16 - "Buddhist Barbie" by Denise Duhamel
#17 - "One Train May Hide Another" by Kenneth Koch
#18 - "Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed!) by Frank O'Hara (with Audio)
#19 - "Crumbs" by Hal Sirowitz (Audio Added)
#20 - "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams
#21 - "They Feed They Lion" by Philip Levine
#22 - "Looking at Kilauea" by Garret Hongo
#23 - "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell (Audio Added)
#24 - A Handful of Richard Brautigan
#25 - "A Buddha in the Woodpile" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
#26 - "Separation" by W.S. Merwin
#27 - "The Flea" by John Donne
#28 - Poem Twenty from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
#29 - "Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder
#30 - "Eunoia" by Christian Bok

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