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

Jeffers At Occidental College

"O that our souls could scale a height like this,
A mighty mountain swept o'er by the bleak
Keen winds of heaven; and, standing on that peak
Above the blinding clouds of prejudice,
Would we could see all truly as it is;
The calm eternal truth would keep us meek."

- Jeffers, "A Hill-Top View" 1904, One of his first poems, printed in Oxy's  student newspaper 

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.

Above: Jeffers on an outing with friend, distinguished
alum Robert Cleland '07

Robinson Jeffers entered Occidental College in 1903 at the age of 16 for his Junior year and graduated the following year. At Oxy he was involved extensively in writing activities. He was an editor of  the school newspaper, he joined the Stevenson literary society (a very popular social activity at the time) and he wrote numerous poems for the Occidental school paper. 

The years that Jeffers spent at Occidental College were an important stage in his development as a poet. He published many early poems in the school newspaper, then called The Aurora, which later changed it's name to The Occidental the subsequent year. In 1955 Jeffers wrote a letter about his literary experiences a Oxy to a group of Occidental students that were founding a now defunct arts and literary magazine called Focus at the college: 

   "When I first went to Occidental College...there was a literary magazine...called the "Aurora," and I remember thinking it odd that Occidental- the west, the setting sun- should be represented by a magazine called Aurora, the dawn. At least it gave us a wide range, the whole daylight sky.
   I was continually writing verses in those days. Nobody, not even I myself, thought they were good verses; but Aurora's editor accepted many of them and it gave me pleasure to see my rhymes in print. They did rhyme, if that is any value, and were usually metrical, but why was I so eager to publish what hardly anyone would read and no one would remember? I suppose the desire for publication is a normal part of the instinct for writing...the writer sits at home, and the mere fact of being printed provides his verses with a kind of audience...So, having his vanity partially satisfied, he can go ahead and try better work

Above: Jeffers with literary club

Jefferstheater.jpg (525340 bytes)
Above: Jeffers in an Oxy theater production

Left: A playbill for a theater  performance
 listing Jeffers as writer and actor

Jeffers was also heavily involved in theater at Occidental College, and he was an avid outdoorsman and hiker as well.  These two pursuits become cornerstones of his future.  He became the country's foremost poet of the natural world; and his interest in theater culminated later in life when he wrote the popular adaptation of Euripides'  Medea, which made two critically acclaimed appearances on Broadway.                   

Page last edited by on 03/06/2013.

Occidental College Library Special Collections & College Archives
© 2004 Occidental College   

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.