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Voices of the Headland

Robinson Jeffers and the Bird of Prey

Series:

Alan J. Malnar

Voices of the Headland: Robinson Jeffers and the Bird of Prey explores the image of the raptor in the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Emanating from the continent’s end of the American West, Jeffers’ poetic eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, and other birds of prey symbolize the compelling presence and voice of nature, a pantheistic universe of beauty and splendor, death and destruction. It is the perilous bird of prey which calls forth the very essence and life-force of Jeffers himself, winging its way through his expansive body of narrative and lyrical verse, a poetry fundamentally anti-social in its vision and primitive in its basic, instinctual surge. Voices of the Headland examines this distinctive imagery from many critical viewpoints.

 

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Chapter 2. Words of Prey

Extract

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WORDS OF PREY

In “Triad,” Jeffers claims that in order for the poet to compose legitimate verse one’s moral and aesthetic intentions must be scrutinized and the selection of authentic subject matter must be considered:

The poet, who wishes not to play games with words, His affair being to awaken dangerous images And call the hawks (CP 2: 309)

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