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Robinson Jeffers

Jeffers, Robinson, 1887–1962, American poet and dramatist, b. Pittsburgh, grad. Occidental College, 1905. From 1914 until his death Jeffers lived on the Big Sur section of the rocky California coast, finding his inspiration in its stern beauty. For Jeffers the world, viewed pantheistically, was marred only by humanity, a doomed and inverted species, and its tainted civilization. He frequently used Greek myth to illustrate humankind's tortured mind, its diseased introspection, and its alienation from nature. Jeffers' poetry is virile, intense, and rich in elemental power, with dense clusters of words and sweeping rhythms. Among his volumes of poetry are Tamar and Other Poems (1924), Roan Stallion (1925), The Woman at Point Sur (1927), Cawdor (1928), Dear Judas (1929), Give Your Heart to the Hawks (1933), Such Counsels You Gave to Me (1937), The Double Axe & Other Poems (1948), and Hungerfield and Other Poems (1954). His adaptations of Greek tragedy— Medea (1947), The Tower beyond Tragedy (pub. 1924; produced 1950), and The Cretan Woman (1954)—brought him wide recognition.

See T. Hunt, ed., The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (2001); his letters, ed. by A. N. Ridgway (1968) and by J. Karman (2 vol, 2009–); biographies by M. B. Bennett (1966) and R. J. Brophy (1975); studies by A. B. Coffin (1971), A. A. Vardamis (1972), R. J. Brophy (rev. ed. 1976), M. Beilke (1977), R. Zaller (1983 and 2012), and J. Karman (1987, repr. 1995); collections of essays on Jeffers ed. by J. Karman (1990), R. Zaller (1991), and R. Brophy (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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