Saturday, January 12, 2013
Shine, Republic - A poem by Robinson Jeffers
The quality of these trees, green height; of the sky, shining; of water, a clear flow; of the rock, hardness
And reticence: each is noble in its quality. The love of freedom has been the quality of western man.
There is a stubborn torch that flames from Marathon to Concord, its dangerous beauty binding three ages
Into one time; the waves of barbarism and civilization have eclipsed but have never quenched it.
For the Greeks the love of beauty, for Rome of ruling; for the present age the passionate love of discovery;
But in one noble passion we are one; and Washington, Luther, Tacitus, Eschylus, one kind of man.
And you, America, that passion made you. You were not born to prosperity, you were born to love freedom.
You did not say “en masse,” you said “independence.” But we cannot have all the luxuries and freedom also.
Freedom is poor and laborious; that torch is not safe but hungry, and often requires blood for its fuel.
You will tame it against it burn too clearly, you will hood it like a kept hawk, you will perch it on the wrist of Caesar.
But keep the tradition, conserve the forms, the observances, keep the spot sore. Be great, carve deep your heel-marks.
The states of the next age will no doubt remember you, and edge their love of freedom with contempt of luxury.
Another poem I also enjoyed by Jeffers, whom I was unfamiliar with until today, Hurt Hawks.
With thanks to Jacob ex Machina.