Occidental College > LibrarySpecial Collections > Online Exhibits > Robinson Jeffers

A 1933 Edward Weston Photo of Jeffers from the Oxy Jeffers Collection

Occidental College has a fine collection of Jeffers letters,  manuscripts, books and  pictures.   

This website is a virtual gallery of Jeffers work and other rare items from the collection.

Jeffers at Occidental College

The Poetry

Jeffers' Fascinating Friends and Family

The Controversial Life of the Poet

Organizations Dedicated to the Man and his Poetry

Other Online Exhibits

Special thanks to Mr. Lindsay Jeffers and Jeffers Literary Properties for permission to display Jeffers' poetry and/or excerpts.  For inquiries concerning publication rights contact  Ariane de Pree, Contract & Rights Manager, Stanford University Press, 1450 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1124.

Website designed by
Aleks Sedzielarz (Oxy Class of '06)
Summer 2004 Library Intern
Mellon Librarian Recruitment Program.


Robinson Jeffers

Oxy's Poet Alumnus

The Jeffers Collection at the Mary Norton Clapp Library

Imagine yourself driving down the California coast south of Santa Cruz in the 1930's. The air has the unrefined smell of flourishing sea-life, salt and earth. The strikingly clear blue and green ocean files slowly towards land until it roars against the rocky shore with mist and foam. Not far from the craggy piled rocks and steep cliffs where the verdant coastal mountains intersect with the sea, among a few hardy, jagged Monterey Cypresses, you come upon a tower skillfully built of enormous, water-smoothed rocks. It strikes you as something from the deep past, like the forgotten solitary ruin of a Celtic fortress. Next to it is a house beautifully crafted in the same style. A man and woman emerge from the house. She is disarmingly beautiful and has strong matriarchal features and posture. The man is lean and rough as the nearby Cypresses. He has lines of sorrow and contemplation around his mouth and eyes, yet a subtle softness surfaces beneath his rough face. This is the poet and his wife. Thoreau went to the woods to learn to live and came back with his story for the world, Jeffers went to the sea to settle down and lived out his days as a man fully engaged in life and nature. From this vantage point Jeffers sent poetry out to teach humankind the way life actually felt outside of the comfort and presumption of civilization.

Robinson Jeffers graduated from Occidental College as part of the class of 1905. He is a decidedly Californian poet and one of the major American poets of the first half of the 20th century.

He was the author of more than 15 books of poetry and criticism, he wrote critically acclaimed theater productions, has been anthologized numerous times. Jeffers poetry is even quite popular internationally and has been translated into many languages including Japanese and Czech.

Jeffers was a controversial figure during his lifetime- an individualist and ardent lover of nature. He was artistically conservative, yet espoused a strong independent pacifist and anti-imperialist political philosophy amid the rampant nationalism and unquestioning patriotism of the periods of the first and second world war.

He was one of only three poets--with Amy Lowell and T.S. Eliot--to appear on the cover of Time magazine (in an April 1932 issue). He has been honored at the Library of Congress and his life's work has been commemorated on a U.S. stamp.

Robinson Jeffers appeals to a wide range of readers from lovers of classical literature, from which he drew many of his themes and techniques, to hikers and outdoors-people who, whether they have a knowledge of poetry or are relatively unacquainted with verse, respond to the simple, yet profound natural rhythms and images of his poems. This inherent appeal has supplied a continuous fan base for his work and sustained the field of Jeffers studies amid harsh treatment by academic critics. In an October 2003 article, L.A. Times writer Lawrence Christon described the rough beauty of Jeffers' environmentalist philosophy by saying that Jeffers was a poet that proved that "bird-watching ain't wimpy."

"The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
  life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
  that watched before there was an ocean. "

-Jeffers, Continent's End

Page last edited by on 03/06/2013.
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