Joseph Anderson

Robinson Jeffers, “Rock and Hawk”

This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

So Robinson Jeffers, marvelous poet of the California coast, establishes an image which he will spin out into a rich and instructive duality:

           …bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness, joined with final

Life with calm death; the falcon’s
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.

There is a thrilling beauty here, but also deep and wise instruction. For those of us who work as partners with the powers of earth this is especially useful. “Realist eyes and act” so elegantly captures my own experiences of engaging with the spirits of raptors in particular: most creatures I find to be somewhat patient, but eagle and hawk are not – they want what they want and will not wait!  Contrasted with the “massive/mysticism of stone”, where once again the spirit of the object (“earthquake-proved and signatured by ages of storms”) is exactly captured, and points to what I feel standing on an erratic boulder at Carkeek Park and connecting with its power. “Massive mysticism”: perfect.

Inspired by words like these I find myself turning to prayer: let me borrow the poet’s words to directly address these creatures he has so eloquently honored:

O Hawk
Give me fierce consciousness like yours
Give me realist eyes like yours
O Rock
Give me disinterestedness [meaning “non-attachment”] like yours
Teach me your massive mysticism
Failure cannot cast me down
Success cannot make me proud
Rock and Hawk
Rock and Hawk
Bring to birth in me
your bright power
your dark peace