Robinson Jeffers

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Robinson Jeffers Famous memorial

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 20 Jan 1962 (aged 75)
Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes were scattered at his home in Carmel, California
Memorial ID 6679396 View Source

American Poet. He is best known for his work centered around the central California coast. His poetry was primarily written in narrative and epic form, but was also known for his short verse, and considered an icon of the environmental movement. The son of a Presbyterian minister and scholar, he became interested in writing poetry at an early age. His father initiated his son's education at home by tutoring him in Greek, Latin, and Presbyterian doctrine. The family traveled frequently to Europe, where he attended boarding schools in Germany and Switzerland. In 1902 he returned to the US and entered the University of Western Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh), in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a sophomore, with a mastery of French, German, Greek, and Latin. The following year, his family moved to Los Angeles, California where he enrolled at Occidental College and became an avid outdoorsman and active in the school's literary society. After graduating from Occidental in 1905, he entered graduate school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study literature In the spring of 1906 he returned to Switzerland at the University of Zurich, taking courses in philosophy and literature before coming back to the University of Southern California to study medicine. During this time, he met his future wife, Una Call Kuster, who was at the time married to a Los Angeles attorney. In 1910 he moved to Seattle, Washington where he enrolled as a forestry student at the University of Washington, which he abandoned in less than a year and returned to Los Angeles, to pursue his love affair with Una. Their relationship became a scandal, making front page news of the Los Angeles Times in 1912. She spent some time in Europe for things to quiet down, and in 1913 she returned and they married and moved to Carmel, California, where he personally constructed Tor House and Hawk Tower, that would become their residence. In the 1920s and 1930s, at the height of his popularity, he was famous for being a tough outdoorsman, living in relative solitude and writing of the difficulty and beauty of the wild, and befriended western US photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Morley Baer. During this time, he published volumes of long narrative blank verse that shook up the national literary scene. These works, including "Tamar and Other Poems" (1924) introduced him as a master of the epic form, reminiscent of ancient Greek poets and were full of controversial subject matter such as incest, murder and parricide. His short poetic verse includes "Hurt Hawks," "The Purse-Seine" and "Shine, Perishing Republic." His intense relationship with the physical world is described in often brutal and apocalyptic verse, and demonstrates a preference for the natural world over what he sees as the negative influence of civilization. Initially, "Tamar and Other Poems" received no acclaim, but when East Coast reviewers discovered the work and began to compare him to Greek tragedians, New York City publisher Boni & Liveright reissued an expanded edition as "Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems" (1925). In these works, he began to articulate themes that contributed to what he later identified as Inhumanism, a word that he coined to describe the belief that mankind is too self-centered and too indifferent to the "astonishing beauty of things". Over the next 16 years he contributed "The Women at Point Sur" (1927), "Cawdor and Other Poems" (1928), "Dear Judas and Other Poems" (1929), "Thurso's Landing and Other Poems" (1932), "Give Your Heart to the Hawks and Other Poems" (1933), "Solstice and Other Poems" (1935), "Such Counsels You Gave to Me and Other Poems" (1937), "The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers" (1938), and "Be Angry at the Sun" (1941). At the peak of his fame, he was one of the few poets to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. He was also asked to read at the Library of Congress, and was posthumously put on a U.S. postage stamp. After 1941 his popularity began to decline due to his strong opposition to the US entering World War II. His work "Medea" (1946) became a hit Broadway play and his next book, "The Double Axe and Other Poems" (1948), a volume of poems that was largely critical of US policy, came with an extremely unconventional note from Random House that the views expressed by him were not those of the publishing company. Soon afterwards, his work was received negatively by several influential literary critics and even though he would continue to publish works intermittently during the 1950s, his poetry never again attained the same degree of popularity that it had in the 1920s and the 1930s. He died at the age of 75. His poem "The Beaks of Eagles" was made into a song by The Beach Boys on their album "Holland" (1973).

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kris 'Peterborough K' Peterson
  • Added: 10 Aug 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6679396
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robinson Jeffers (10 Jan 1887–20 Jan 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 6679396, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes were scattered at his home in Carmel, California.