Sunday Reflections: Continent’s End (Jeffers)
Continent’s End by Robinson Jeffers
At the equinox when the earth was veiled in a late rain,
wreathed with wet poppies, waiting spring,
The ocean swelled for a far storm and beat its boundary,
the ground-swell shook the beds of granite.
I gazing at the boundaries of granite and spray, the
established sea-marks, felt behind me
Mountain and plain, the immense breadth of the continent,
before me the mass and doubled stretch of water.
I said: You yoke the Aleutian seal-rocks with the lava
and coral sowings that flower the south,
Over your flood the life that sought the sunrise faces
ours that has followed the evening star.
The long migrations meet across you and it is nothing
to you, you have forgotten us, mother.
You were much younger when we crawled out of the womb
and lay in the sun's eye on the tideline.
It was long and long ago; we have grown proud since then
and you have grown bitter; life retains
Your mobile soft unquiet strength; and envies hardness,
the insolent quietness of stone.
The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
that watched before there was an ocean.
That watched you fill your beds out of the condensation
of thin vapor and watched you change them,
That saw you soft and violent wear your boundaries down,
eat rock, shift places with the continents.
Mother, though my song's measure is like your surf-beat's
ancient rhythm I never learned it of you.
Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both
our tones flow from the older fountain.