Poem by Robinson Jeffers


A Transcribed Excerpt of Dialogue from:


A 113 Minute Color Motion Picture Film Copyright 1994 Carmel Heritage Available on Video Cassette Credits at End of Excerpt

The following dialogue excerpt was manually transcribed from the film's soundtrack. Punctuation of quoted material attempts to follow the phrasing performed in the film. This transcription is Copyright 1995 by the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation. This version has been edited for youth reading by Camp Internet 1999.

He was born John Robinson Jeffers, on January 10th 1887. His father, a strict doctor of theology, stressed his sons' education, but kept Robin deliberately isolated from other children. Every time he made a friend, the family moved.

One of Robin's biographers wrote, "It possibly never occurred to the doctor that friendship could include human beings as well as books." Robin spoke five languages even before he entered college and graduated from L.A.'s Occidental College when he was only eighteen. He entered graduate school of USC where he fell in love with a girl in his German class.

Seeking a wild coast where he could write in seclusion the young poet came to Carmel in the Fall of 1914 with Una, his wife and his mediator with the world.

"For the first time in my life, I could see people living amid magnificent unspoiled scenery. When the stage coach topped the hill from Monterey and we looked down through pines and sea-fogs on Carmel Bay, it was evident that we had come, without knowing it, to our inevitable place." Robinson Jeffers.

Their first home, a rented log cabin in the heart of the bohemian village. From there Una and Robin set out to explore their new world.

Life in Carmel was good to the couple. A year and a half after they arrived, Una was expecting Robin's child. Twins actually, Garth and Donnan. Every day they'd walk out to the windswept headlands of Carmel point, to a place Robin and Una called The Tor, after the coast in Devon, England it resembled. The property had been a golf course. Before the great courses in Pebble Beach the first links in the bay were in Carmel. This is where they would build their house, Tor House.

It seemed to me that Robinson Jeffers was building that house for years and years. Sometimes seen rocks piled out there and it looked like he couldn't make up his mind which one to use and they'd be there for a long period of time and then finally they would find a place in these walls that were going up.

What was going up villagers were surprised to learn, was a tower Robin was building for Una. Each day, as he put stones in place, a hawk appeared. The hawk became a recurring symbol in his writings, sometimes flying free, other times crippled, earthbound, waiting to die. The themes in Jeffers poems were as hard as the granite that formed Hawk Tower.

The tower took him four years to build, but while he was building the tower I think he probably did his most productive writing. Somehow, laying stones and putting verses together seemed to go well.

Robin would build with stones and take care of his trees. All those thousands of trees we watered by buckets. He planted at least three thousand, I believe. Cypresses and eucalyptus, Monterey pines also. It was a busy life. I think they knew every wild flower, every bird, every star in the heavens. That was their life.

Jeffers loved the beauty of nature. The landscape around Carmel infused his work. And he was glad that it would be here long after man is gone.

"I think that one may contribute ever so slightly to the beauty of things, by making one's own life and environment beautiful. But I would have each person realize the beauty of things is sufficient without him."

When Edward Weston first arrived in Carmel, he found living here a poet who absolutely dominated the landscape -- Robinson Jeffers. A great poet plus, was how Weston described him. The two became friends, and Weston would do great portraits of the man. When Weston shared Jeffers' poetry with his sons, eight year old Cole exclaimed: "Dad, this is as exciting as a wild west movie! I didn't know poetry could be like that!" So it was.
By the early 1930's, Robinson Jeffers was being called not only one of the greatest American poets of his generation, but of any generation. But for Jeffers, fame of the moment was not important to him. In fact, it only threatened his valued privacy. While most of us think in terms of days and years, Jeffers thought in terms of centuries and beyond.