two decades his out-of-print books havenbeen reissued in various editions. Andnnow we have the first two of the fournvolumes of his collected poetry, beautifullynprinted and bound; they are, innfact, models of the art of bookmaking.nCertainly no other American poetnhas approached Jeffers in his ability tonendow character with life; his people,ntormented and tormenting creatures,nhaunt the memory like grisly phantomsnrising from some atavistic depth ofnwhich we were unaware. Passing beforenthe mind’s eye, they reveal those gulfsnover which we daily pass. In theirnstrengths and weaknesses we see ourselves;nthey reveal to us, above all else,nhow slippery is our hold on reason andnhow tempting are the lures of irrationalitynin all its forms. Which is to say,nJeffers did what all great writers havendone: he provided insight into the humanncondition.nInsight, above all else. And that insightndoes not stop with the humanncondition, but extends outward into thenlarger and, for Jeffers, more importantnnatural world. No other poet of thisncentury strove more successfully ton”catch the inhuman God” in his lens.nIn this area, indeed, Jeffers had fewnpeers in all of literature. It was, ofncourse, the “inhuman God” —ncleansed of the least taint of anthropomorphism—nthat Jeffers most cherished,nand besought his fellows to turnnto as a means of realizing their truenhumanity and at the same time escapingnthe introversion and narcissism inherentnin merely human-centered concerns.nIn a late poem, “My LovednSubject,” he commented that thoughnold age prevented him from walking thenmountains as in the past, his belovednsubject remained unchanged:nMountains and ocean, rock,nwater and beasts and treesnAre the protagonists, the humannpeople are only symbolicninterpreters.nIn another poem written in his finalnyears he spoke of “the business ofnpoetry” as being essentially a celebrationnof the physical world — God’snbody, so to speak, of which man makesnup a miniscule part:nTo feel and speak thenastonishing beauty of thingsn— earth, stone and water.n46/CHRONICLESnBeast, man and woman, sun,nmoon and stars —nThe blood-shot beauty ofnhuman nature, its thoughts,nfrenzies and passions, •nAnd unhuman nature itsntowering reality—nFor man’s half dream; man,nyou might say, is naturendreaming, but rocknAnd water and sky arenconstant — to feelnGreatly, and understand greatly,nand express greatly, thennaturalnBeauty, is the sole businessnof poetry.nThe rest’s diversion: those holynor noble sentiments, thenintricate ideas.nThe love, lust, longing: reasons,nbut not the reason.nIn several poems, and also in thenremarkable essay “Poetry, Gongoriam,nand a Thousand Years,” Jeffers expressednhis ars poetica — most notablynin “Apology for Bad Dreams,” writtenncirca 1925, at the beginning of hisngreat renown. There he disavowed anyn”moral” intention in the artistic impulse,nwhich was both creative andndestructive, similar in nature to thencreative-destructive “artistry” of God,nWho “brays humanity in a mortar tonbring the savor / From the bruised root:na man having bad dreams, who inventsnvictims, is only the ape of that God.”nHe expressed this essentially amoralnaesthetic in a letter when he remarkednthat “poetry does not necessarily havena ‘message’ except ‘How beautifulnthings are’ — or ‘How sad, or terrible’n— or even ‘How exciting.’ These arenthe only messages that Homer or Shakespeare—nfor instance — have for us.”nThe amazing thing about the poetrynin these two enormous volumes, bothnthe lyrics and the long narrative poems,nis that all of it may be read with interestnby any intelligent reader. One may bendisturbed by the poetry, but it is hard tonimagine that one might be indifferentnto it. By 1920 Jeffers had found hisnunmistakable “voice,” having left behindnhim the insignificant efforts of hisnteens and 20’s; as everyone knows, henmatured late. (That early poetry, incidentally,nwill be published in VolumenIV, along with various of his prosenstatements.) But here we have the fullynnnintegrated personality from the verynbeginning. “To the Stone-Cutters,”nfor example, appears on the third pagenof Volume I. Its somber rhythm conveysnstoicism in a manner that we havencome to regard as typically Jeffersian;nits every line bears his unmistakablenimprint:nStone-cutters fighting time withnmarble, you foredefeatednChallengers of oblivionnEat cynical earnings, knowingnrock splits, records fall down.nThe square-limbed RomannlettersnScale in the thaws, wear in thenrain. The poet as wellnBuilds his monumentnmockingly;nFor man will be blotted out,nthe blithe earth die, the bravensunnDie blind and blacken tonthe heart:nYet stones have stood for anthousand years, and painednthoughts foundnThe honey of peace innold poems.nJeffers was preeminently a “loner,”nalways keeping his distance from thencreeds and faiths of the great masses ofnmen, and of those who pretended tonspeak to the masses. In a word, he wasnan aristocrat in the classical sense of thenterm. He most resembled, in thoughtnand temperament, such solitary figuresnas Heraclitus, Lucretius, and, to a lessernextent, Nietzsche — and, yes, EmilynDickinson. I have always relished hisnbemused wonder at those who professednadmiration for the Many (asnHeraclitus called them). The openingnlines of “Wise Men in Their BadnHours” express a view that seems almostnheretical in this age of the CommonnMan:nWise men in their bad hoursnhave enviednThe little people making merrynlike grasshoppersnIn spots of sunlight,nhardly thinkingnBackward but never forward,nand if they somehownTake hold upon the futurenthey do itnHalf asleep, with the toolsnof generationn