Robinson Jeffers. Cawdor and Other Poems.
New York, Horace Liveright, 1928.
“If ever a man and the Sprit of Place conspired for a mystical union it is here. That portion of California---its hills, sea, blue lupine, golden poppies, sea-gulls, dirt roads, pines, firs, hawks, herons and lighthouses. . belongs as absolutely to Robinson Jeffers . . . as Wessex belong to Thomas Hardy.”
Benjamin de Casseres in The Bookman November 1927
Robinson Jeffers published three books of poetry during the twenties, all of which consolidated his reputation as a poet of the natural universe and even more, of the cosmos. He had bought land in Carmel in 1919 on a hill facing Point Lobos. On August 15 Jeffers began work on his Tor House and later the forty foot high Hawk Tower, both monuments to independence and self-reliance. He became the poet of the Pacific shore, and of the sublime beauties of Northern California. Jeffers reacted sharply to what he felt was the disaster of the American dream, prizing a “detachment from the insane desire for power, wealth and permanence, in a measured indifference to pain, joy or success and in turning outward d to God who is all things.” He was a poet of unusual conscience and similar integrity.
Jeffers poetry was controversial. In his narrative and tragic poems he proposed to “uncenter the human mind from itself,” and produced work influenced by and equal to the Ancient Greek dramatists. He was incredibly well educated, the son of a biblical scholar and a musician, educated in private schools abroad and at the University of Southern California and Occidental College. He was an intimate of the beauties of many languages, including Hebrew, Latin, Greek, German and French. He would read to his family from the works of Thomas Hardy, Sir Walter Scott and Doestoevsky.
Many, like Dwight MacDonald, could not stomach what they felt was the glorification of violence and dark psychology of his work: “Not since the later Elizabethans has there been such a witches’ dance of incest, suicide, madness, adultery and Lesbianism. “Edgar Lee Masters however, characterized him as “alive of health and of sanest vision,” and Babette Deutsch in the New Republic “felt somewhat as Keats professed to feel, on looking into Chapman’s Homer.”