Robinson Jeffers and the Bird of Prey
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.
If the pages of this book were the feathers of a hawk they could have only grown into mature plumage over time and through many molts. For many ideas after moments of struggle and self-defeat were broken like feathers and dropped along the way. New ideas grew in place of old ones, yet others still remain frayed, imperfect in their design.
I admit that my initial attraction to the poetry of Robinson Jeffers was purely visceral, prompted by my love of birds of prey and the sport of falconry. That is to say, I loved Jeffers’ hawks before I loved his poems, but I know now that his hawks are his poems. They have inspired me, and I have followed them to where they have led me—like I’ve followed errant hawks, deeper and deeper into the darkness of the forest—further and further into a curious study of this profound man’s life and work.
At the age of fourteen I snared my first kestrel falcon with an ancient Eastern trap called a Bal-Chatri. Had I been born a hunter in the fiction of a Jeffersian verse—perchance, a Hood Cawdor—rather than a suburban kid on a stingray bike, toting a pellet pistol in his belt and a sling-shot in his pocket, perhaps I would have known—but how could I have known?—the little feathered dragon that I had just plucked from the sky would someday lead me to the hawks of...
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