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Robinson Jeffers 1887 (Allegheny) – 1962 (Carmel-by-the-Sea)
(Reference to The Women at Point Sur)
I stand near Soberanes Creek, on the knoll over the sea, west of
the road. I remember
This is the very place where Arthur Barclay, a priest in revolt,
proposed three questions to himself:
First, is there a God and of what nature? Second, whether there's
anything after we die but worm's meat?
Third, how should men live? Large time-worn questions no
doubt; yet he touched his answers, they are not unattainable;
But presently lost them again in the glimmer of insanity.
many minds have worn these questions; old coins
Rubbed faceless, dateless. The most have despaired and accepted
doctrine; the greatest have achieved answers, but always
With aching strands of insanity in them.
I think of Lao-tze; and the dear beauty of the Jew whom they
crucified but he lived, he was greater than Rome;
And godless Buddha under the boh-tree, straining through his
mind the delusions and miseries of human life.
Why does insanity always twist the great answers?
tormented persons want truth.
Man is an animal like other animals, wants food and success and
women, not truth. Only if the mind
Tortured by some interior tension has despaired of happiness:
then it hates its life-cage and seeks further,
And finds, if it is powerful enough. But instantly the private
agony that made the search
Muddles the finding.
Here was a man who envied the chiefs of
the provinces of China their power and pride,
And envied Confucius his fame for wisdom. Tortured by hardly
conscious envy he hunted the truth of things,
Caught it, and stained it through with his private impurity. He
praised inaction, silence, vacancy: why?
Because the princes and officers were full of business, and wise
Confucius of words.
Here was a man who was born a bastard, and among the people
That more than any in the world valued race-purity, chastity, the
prophetic splendors of the race of David.
Oh intolerable wound, dimly perceived. Too loving to curse his
mother, desert-driven, devil-haunted,
The beautiful young poet found truth in the desert, but found also
Fantastic solution of hopeless anguish. The carpenter was not his
father? Because God was his father,
Not a man sinning, but the pure holiness and power of God.
His personal anguish and insane solution
Have stained an age; nearly two thousand years are one vast poem
drunk with the wine of his blood.
And here was another Saviour, a prince in India,
A man who loved and pitied with such intense comprehension of
pain that he was willing to annihilate
Nature and the earth and stars, life and mankind, to annul the
suffering. He also sought and found truth,
And mixed it with his private impurity, the pity, the denials.
search for truth is foredoomed and frustrate?
Only stained fragments?
Until the mind has turned its love from
itself and man, from parts to the whole.
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