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Robinson Jeffers, burnout and beauty

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My friend Honestpoet Robinson Jeffersencouraged me to look into the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. I looked for him in Wikipedia, and found some pretty compelling comments:

…Jeffers continued to explore the questions of how human beings could find their proper relationship (free of human egocentrism) with the divinity of the beauty of things.

Mankind was too self-centered, he complained, and too indifferent to the “astonishing beauty of things”.

In January of 2002 I had what we used to call a “nervous breakdown.” Utterly disabled, off work for months, I could feel almost nothing but loss.

Beauty was the path that opened the possibility of healing. It started with a counselor’s suggestion that I learn about delight (which, in those parched beginnings, meant a cup of coffee and a newspaper at the health-food co-op).  Eventually, I came to agree with Joan Chittister, who wrote, “A loss of commitment to beauty is the surest sign that we have lost our way to God.” (Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of God).

Much has happened since then. But as I read this poem of Jeffers this morning, I felt called again to the life of healing-by-beauty, thus permitting (what seems to me to be) one gentle, feather’s-weight sensitization to its inventor’s whispers.

Thanks, HP – you have helped me.

Love The Wild Swan
“I hate my verses, every line, every word.
Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try
One grass-blade’s curve, or the throat of one bird
That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky.
Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
One color, one glinting
Hash, of the splendor of things.
Unlucky hunter, Oh bullets of wax,
The lion beauty, the wild-swan wings, the storm of the wings.”
–This wild swan of a world is no hunter’s game.
Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast
Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame.
Does it matter whether you hate your . . . self?
At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
Robinson Jeffers


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Written by Monte

April 18, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Give to Caesar what’s his (readings for Sunday, Oct 19)

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The Imperial Denarius

The Roman Imperial Denarius

I hear from zealous anti-tax folks from time to time, who usually pop by to take issue with my Poverty, Government, and the Bible essay.

Some are eager to prove that government shouldn’t be involved in helping poor people—catch your breath and plunge in here—because taxation is theft because it’s taken against our will and since taxation is theft it obviously isn’t God’s plan for governments to help the poor because God would not be pleased by stealing the money it would take to do so nor by helping the poor against the will of the stingy.

Well, hokum. Read the rest of this entry »