The Beauty of Things

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things—earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars—
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality—
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant—to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Robinson Jeffers
The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

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6 thoughts on “The Beauty of Things

  1. Came for the dendro but stayed for the poetry. One of mine.

    Dance of the Grebes

    We think with delight of the flight of birds,
    Of aerial acrobatics on high. Closest we get
    To birds is hang gliding, or bungee jumping
    Off cliffs. But birds aren’t limited to
    Flight display or rite of passage epic
    Journeys across oceans. Sometimes,
    On land, they dance, sometimes even
    Walk on water.

    Grebes meeting on a lake, rippling watery
    Rings inter-acting and over-lapping
    As they begin the ancient ritual of attraction.
    Tentative courtship, circling and departing,
    Over days. The gift of pond weed from the male
    ‘I’m good for providing – take these weeds!’
    And if she does, the dance steps up,
    Necks arch and inter-twine in sync, beaks
    Cross like twin swords – uncross and cross again
    And suddenly in a flurry of silver spray
    They’re off, running on water – together –
    Heads and slender necks tilted towards each other.

    Oh, it’s a dance like no other –
    Defying gravity,
    Defying imagination!

    There’s a scene in a sixties movie where
    Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time
    In a formal dance.
    Arm extends to arm, glancing gesture of attraction.
    Hands touch, palm to palm, feet move in
    Patterned sync to reedy music.
    Social mores of the time, however,
    Preclude the gravity – defying
    Ecstatic finale.
    No running on water.

  2. Here is a symbol in which
    Many high tragic thoughts
    Watch their own eyes.

    This gray rock, standing tall
    On the headland, where the sea-wind
    Lets no tree grow,

    Earthquake-proved, and signatured
    By ages of storms: on its peak
    A falcon has perched.

    I think, here is your emblem
    To hang in the future sky;
    Not the cross, not the hive,

    But this; bright power, dark peace;
    Fierce consciousness joined with final
    Disinterestedness;

    Life with calm death; the falcon’s
    Realist eyes and act
    Married to the massive

    Mysticism of stone,
    Which failure cannot cast down
    Nor success make proud.

    Rock and Hawk, by Robinson Jeffers
    The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

  3. Thoughtful rock / falcon poem Rocks and stone monuments
    fr thoughts of eternity and mortality. Coincidently, I wrote my
    own eagle poem a couple of days ago and posted at Judith
    Curry’s Climate Etc.

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