Robinson Jeffers American Literature Analysis
Since first gaining public attention in 1925 with Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems, Robinson Jeffers has been remarkable primarily for his metrical innovations; for graphic, even sordid, plots set in scenes of spectacular beauty; and for themes that eventually resulted in the philosophical attitude he called “Inhumanism.” In all three respects Jeffers stands alone. However, as time passes, he appears increasingly to have anticipated later developments with uncanny foresight.
Metrical innovations—and the purposes to which he put them—are most immediately evident. Narrative poetry in the 1920’s held a larger share of popular culture than it would later; still taught as a literary staple in the schools, it appealed to a wide audience. In 1920, nineteenth century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was easily the most popular poet in the United States, as the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson had been twenty years before. Stephen Vincent Benét would have several best sellers in the two decades following. All of them wrote in traditional rhymed or unrhymed regular four-or five-stress patterns that had been familiar for centuries. Jeffers himself used these in his early narratives. For Tamar, however, an updated version of a myth variously recounted by the Greek poet Hesiod in Theogony (c. 800 b.c.e.) and by the authors of the biblical Book of Samuel, Jeffers believed that he needed...
(The entire section is 4380 words.)
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