Carmel Point by Robinson Jeffers: Reading and Meditation

May 11, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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Carmel Point, Robinson Jeffers


“The extraordinary patience of things!” Patience means to wait. Etymologically it also means to suffer or to endure. How nature waits upon us, waits us out, suffers through our dominance and negligence, our disregard for its beauty and for our own! The mark we leave on the world is broad and sweeping, taking many forms. And yet, with time most of our marks pass away. The people are a tide; human works dissolve. What we think is important day by day is likely not to last.

Is this a counsel not to work, not to leave our mark? No. But it is a counsel to take a broader perspective—for Robinson Jeffers, a geological perspective. “Carmel Point” calls us to reconsider our origins and our ends. Viewed from the vantage point of the rock and the ocean, how trivial are most of the things that daily occupy our minds and hearts? What does it mean to say that “We must uncenter our minds from ourselves”? Amidst all the efforts to humanize our culture, Jeffers suggests that there is a different kind of confidence if we “unhumanize our views a little” and consider the extraordinary patience of things.

Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado

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