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This review is taken from PN Review 82, Volume 18 Number 2, November - December 1991.

DANGEROUS TERRITORY The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers: Volume III, 1938-1962, edited by Tim Hunt (Stanford University Press) $60

As humanity blithely carries on with its rape of the planet, Robinson Jeffers, some thirty years after his death, seems more relevant by the day in his role as sombre advocate of the earth as against its desecrators. And his denunciations of his native America in its imperial guise - 'brusque, savage, and intransigent', William Everson called them - ring true again as vainglorious talk of a 'New World Order' issues out of Washington.

It is Jeffers's political declamations that bulk largest in the latest segment of the projected four-volume edition of his poetry. Starting with the poems from Be Angry at the Sun, it covers his output down to his death in 1962. Probably the portion of this handsome production which will be of the greatest textual interest is the poet's most controversial book, The Double Axe. There Jeffers condemned America's involvement in World War II and set out his dire predictions of what would ensue from that plunge, engineered, as he saw it, by Franklin Roosevelt. The book was a scandal, both before and after its publication in 1948. An indignant Random House called for revisions and The Double Axe finally appeared with a publisher's disclaimer and without a number of the poems Jeffers had intended for it.

The editorial rationale behind this new printing of The Double Axe and the other contents of Volume III will be fully explained in its successor. But it is clear that the aim has been to ...


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