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“Shine, Perishing Republic” by Robinson Jeffers

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops
and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit,
the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good,
be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from
the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s
feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever
servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught—they say—
God, when he walked on earth.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Skorpion June 12, 2019, 10:10 AM

    A visionary.

  • ghostsniper June 12, 2019, 10:56 AM

    “I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center”
    Ahh, but the cities are as lamps to the moths, beckoning in their diaphanous allure, it was ever so, and still. Inescapable labyrinths churning down, down, down, leaving soulless powder. Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it, for you the blind that want to see, the bell tolls for thee.

  • Anonymous June 12, 2019, 11:36 AM

    But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from
    the thickening center; corruption++++++++++
    When Jeffers wrote this nearly 100 years ago, it was still mostly possible to shelter one’s children from the corruption found in any society comprised of humans. The country still had very large swaths of rural communities, many of which lacked electrification.
    Moreover, John Dewey and his ilk hadn’t laid siege to the public school system. And what was the Frankfort School of Critical Theory had yet to invade our shores. So, in those two respects, the good old days to be sure.
    Fast forward to the present and it is virtually impossible to keep your children from being exposed to the filth and corruption that cannot be avoided. Worse, some parents think it’s edgy and cool using their kids to prove to others how hip and with it they (the parents) are.
    Public schools have been co-opted and are little more than indoctrination centers, where the little ones learn their marching orders. I can’t imagine Jeffers could have imagined such a state of affairs. And really, the disease, left unchecked and permitted to grow for decades, has metastasized to the point where the only hope for a cure is the complete eradication-root and branch- of the system and all of its supportive agencies. Clearly, this isn’t ever going to happen.
    So ultimately it comes down to Entropy, the Universe’s immutable default resolution. Or, as another poet penned it, “Sooner or later, everything put together falls apart.” A real downer, but then there wasn’t anything optimistic about Jeffers view of an America governed by humans and their propensity to satiate the carnal.

  • Richard June 12, 2019, 11:37 AM

    No way no how…Not Anonymous. Damn It!!!!!

  • downeasthillbilly June 12, 2019, 12:11 PM

    “And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.”

    I ken Robinson Jeffers, misanthrope. He was an early advocate of “stay away from crowds.” He was just a bit less plain spoken than Ol’ Remus.

  • ROBERT SYKES June 13, 2019, 4:05 AM

    I discovered Jeffers by accident wandering about an old Border’s Book Store. He quickly became one of my favorites, and eventually I ran down all his books, still sitting on a shelf, still read.

    The other random discovery was Gerard Manley Hopkins. I especially like Richard Burton’s reading of “The Leaden Echo & The Golden Echo,” in remembrance of Elizabeth Taylor:


    Why do we not have poets of that caliber anymore?

  • H June 13, 2019, 5:40 AM

    Thomas Jefferson called it a couple hundred years ago: “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”

    Spent a couple weeks in the Del-Mar-Va area recently. Gawd-a-mighty, ain’t that the truth.

  • Cobb June 13, 2019, 11:09 AM

    Shining scratched dull from steel wool’s worry
    A liver spotted hand holds the till and minds the roped cleats of yesterday’s glory