Night Without Sleep

By Robinson Jeffers 1887–1962 Robinson Jeffers
The world’s as the world is; the nations rearm and prepare to change; the age of tyrants returns;
The greatest civilization that has ever existed builds itself higher towers on breaking foundations.
Recurrent episodes; they were determined when the ape’s children first ran in packs, chipped flint to an edge.

I lie and hear dark rain beat the roof, and the blind wind.

                                                                                       In the morning
   perhaps I shall find strength again
To value the immense beauty of this time of the world, the flowers of decay their pitiful loveliness, the fever-dream
Tapestries that back the drama and are called the future. This ebb of vitality feels the ignoble and cruel
Incidents, not the vast abstract order.

                                                          I lie and hear dark rain beat the roof, and the night-blind wind.

In the Ventana country darkness and rain and the roar of waters fill the deep mountain-throats.
The creekside shelf of sand where we lay last August under a slip of stars
And firelight played on the leaning gorge-walls, is drowned and lost. The deer of the country huddle on a ridge
In a close herd under madrone-trees; they tremble when a rock-slide goes down, they open great darkness-
Drinking eyes and press closer.

                                              Cataracts of rock
Rain down the mountain from cliff to cliff and torment the stream-bed. The stream deals with them. The laurels are wounded,
Redwoods go down with their earth and lie thwart the gorge. I hear the torrent boulders battering each other,
I feel the flesh of the mountain move on its bones in the wet darkness.

                                                                                  Is this more beautiful
Than man’s disasters? These wounds will heal in their time; so will humanity’s. This is more night....

Robinson Jeffers, "Night Without Sleep" from The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1988).© 1938, Robinson Jeffers, renewed 1966 and copyright © Jeffers Literary Properties. Used by permission Stanford University Press.

Source: The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (Stanford University Press, 1988)


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Poet Robinson Jeffers 1887–1962



Subjects War & Conflict, Nature, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Weather, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams