Robinson Jeffers’ short, prophetic poem, “Shine, Perishing Republic” is especially poignant if not palpable today. Readers can experience the unraveling of our 238-year old republic on TV, which didn’t exist 89 years ago when he published it. Talk about vision.

Gonzo Journalist and activist Chris Hedges, America’s moral conscience today, recently chronicled the demolishment of our democracy: “Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society.” (Truthdig Report: 12/7/14)

Nevertheless, nothing is final yet in this fluidity we call time. So, today’s reader can take stock in Jeffers’ “inhumanistric” forebodings because “corruption never has been compulsory.” Maybe President Obama’s optimistic belief in change can reverse this trend. Let’s hope.



by Robinson Jeffers, 1925

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and deca-
dence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stub-
bornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thick-
ening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s feet there
are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught–they say–
God, when he walked on earth.


For further analysis of Jeffers’ poem check out The Supreme Court 2011 Term: Foreword: Democracy and Disdain — Magazine article from: Harvard Law Review …Voters: The Roberts Court and the Political Process. B. Suspecting Congress C. Undermining Enforcement III. SHINE, PERISHINGREPUBLIC. Sometimes the Justices seem barely able to hide their disdain for the other branches of government. – or you can visit for a comprehensive and more collegiate background.

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