Contemplation Of The Sword

Robinson Jeffers 1887 (Allegheny) – 1962 (Carmel-by-the-Sea)



Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel,
        formerly used to kill men, but here
In the sense of a symbol. The sword: that is: the storms
        and counter-storms of general destruction; killing
        of men,
Destruction of all goods and materials; massacre, more or
        less intentional, of children and women;
Destruction poured down from wings, the air made accomplice,
        the innocent air
Perverted into assasin and poisoner.

The sword: that is: treachery and cowardice, incredible
        baseness, incredible courage, loyalties, insanities.
The sword: weeping and despair, mass-enslavement,
        mass-tourture, frustration of all hopes
That starred man's forhead. Tyranny for freedom, horror for
        happiness, famine for bread, carrion for children.
Reason will not decide at last, the sword will decide.

Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred
        stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries
And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this
        thing comes near us again I am finding it hard
To praise you with a whole heart.
I know what pain is, but pain can shine. I know what death is,
        I have sometimes
Longed for it. But cruelty and slavery and degredation,
        pestilence, filth, the pitifulness
Of men like hurt little birds and animals . . . if you were
        only
Waves beating rock, the wind and the iron-cored earth,
With what a heart I could praise your beauty.
You will not repent, nor cancel life, nor free man from anguish
For many ages to come. You are the one that tortures himself to
        discover himself: I am
One that watches you and discovers you, and praises you in little
        parables, idyl or tragedy, beautiful
Intolerable God.
The sword: that is:
I have two sons whom I love. They are twins, they were born
        in nineteen sixteen, which seemed to us a dark year
Of a great war, and they are now of the age
That war prefers. The first-born is like his mother, he is so
        beautiful
That persons I hardly know have stopped me on the street to
        speak of the grave beauty of the boy's face.
The second-born has strength for his beauty; when he strips
        for swimming the hero shoulders and wrestler loins
Make him seem clothed. The sword: that is: loathsome disfigurements,
        blindness, mutilation, locked lips of boys
Too proud to scream.
Reason will not decide at last: the sword will decide.

Font size:
Collection  PDF     
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:02 min read
133

Quick analysis:

Scheme Axbcxdefxxb gcxxefA xcxxxhxdcxixixjxggxhxxxxgjxxccxxA
Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 2,497
Words 406
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 11, 7, 33

Robinson Jeffers

John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. more…

All Robinson Jeffers poems | Robinson Jeffers Books

2 fans

Discuss the poem Contemplation Of The Sword with the community...

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "Contemplation Of The Sword" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 24 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/32785/contemplation-of-the-sword>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    June 2024

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.
    6
    days
    6
    hours
    8
    minutes

    Special Program

    Earn Rewards!

    Unlock exciting rewards such as a free mug and free contest pass by commenting on fellow members' poems today!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    William Blake: "Tiger Tiger, burning bright, In the forests of the _________".
    A knight
    B fight
    C night
    D bites