Robinson Jeffers, 'The Double Axe'

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Robinson Jeffers’ dark view of humankind is thought to owe much to Friedrich Nietzsche while his admiration for the beauty of nature has been compared to sentiments expressed by Lucretius in de rerum natura. In many respects, however, the philosopher who stands closest to Jeffers in both thought and personality is the ancient Greek thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus. Jeffers’ extended poem ‘The Double Axe’ makes no fewer than five clear references to Heraclitean ideas: (1) ‘Heraclitus’ Sibyl whose voice reached over ten thousand years’; (2) the opposites ‘winter and summer…rain the drought, and peace and war; (3) ‘the eternal fire-wheel; (4) ‘One existence, one music, one organism, one life, one God: star-fire and rock-strength, the sea’s cold flow/And man’s dark soul; and (5) ‘This divine outer universe is after all not at peace with itself, but full of violent strains and conflicts. The physical world is ruled by opposing tensions.’
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Archival date: 2022-06-16
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