Continents of Snow

Continents of Snow.


Excerpted from: The 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 double 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….

…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.

Robinson Jeffers, “Continent’s End” from The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1988).© 1938, Robinson Jeffers, renewed 1966 and copyright © Jeffers Literary Properties. Used by permission Stanford University Press.
Source: The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (Stanford University Press, 1988)