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 beautiful....at 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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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

 Robinson  Jeffers

Biography

Robinson Jeffers was born in 1887 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The son of Presbyterian minister and Biblical scholar, Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers, as a boy Jeffers was thoroughly trained in the Bible and classical languages. The Jeffers family frequently traveled to Europe, and Robinson attended boarding schools in Germany and Switzerland. In 1902, Jeffers enrolled in Western University of Pennsylvania; when his family moved to . . .

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Poem Categorization

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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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