Monday, March 01, 2010

Tor House

View of Tor House and Hawk Tower from Scenic Drive, Carmel, California
(click for bigger picture)

I really enjoyed my tour of Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House on Friday. The setting was perfect--a storm was working its way toward shore--to admire Jeffers' handiwork and his poems. So while I'm back at work and have to clean up after someone broke into our offices, I'll take a break and read one of his poems to escape back to his house and the following drive along the Big Sur coast.

Tor House
If you should look for this place after a handful
of lifetimes:
Perhaps of my planted forest a few
May stand yet, dark-leaved Australians or the coast
cypress, haggard
With storm-drift; but fire and the axe are devils.
Look for foundations of sea-worn granite, my fingers
had the art
To make stone love stone, you will find some remnant.
But if you should look in your idleness after ten
thousand years:
It is the granite knoll on the granite
And lava tongue in the midst of the bay, by the mouth
of the Carmel
River-valley, these four will remain
In the change of names. You will know it by the wild
sea-fragrance of wind
Though the ocean may have climbed or retired a little;
You will know it by the valley inland that our sun
and our moon were born from
Before the poles changed; and Orion in December
Evenings was strung in the throat of the valley like
a lamp-lighted bridge.
Come in the morning you will see white gulls
Weaving a dance over blue water, the wane of the moon
Their dance-companion, a ghost walking
By daylight , but wider and whiter than any bird in
the world.
My ghost you needn't look for; it is probably
Here, but a dark one, deep in the granite, not
dancing on wind
With the mad wings and the day moon.

The view (from just below Tor House) to the southwest toward Point Lobos

(Update 9 Dec 2011): For more on Jeffers and the compilation by the Stanford Press, see this article.

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