Arthur B. Coffin: On "Cassandra"

By 1948, in The Double Axe, the next to the last volume of verse published during the poet's lifetime, we are not surprised to hear Jeffers say, in Cassandra,

 

        Poor bitch, be wise.

No: you'll still mumble in a corner a crust of truth, to men

And gods disgusting.--You and I, Cassandra.

 

This, Jeffers said in a book that bore an unusual Publishers' Note, which announced that Random House felt "compelled to go on record with its disagreement over some of the political views pronounced by the poet in this volume." The Cassandra of the poem The Tower Beyond Tragedy (1925) had predicted such a war as the readers of The Double Axe volume had just come through. Furthermore, Jeffers had preached throughout the thirties that such war was inevitable, unless the United States changed its course of action in world affairs, and in Such Counsels You Gave to Me (1937) and in Be Angry at the Sun (1941) he foretold events that history was yet to record.

Jeffers' remark to Cassandra (in the later poem) came at perhaps the most trying time in his career: the principles to which he steadfastly clung had apparently been proved by the events of history, as he saw them, but there seemed to be no one listening. What was more, he had to endure, with "cheerful consent," as he generously put it, the singular treatment from his publisher. He was right from his point of view, but, when he needed the emotional support, very few of his readers gave him credit for his perspicacity.

Details

Criticism Overview
Title Arthur B. Coffin: On "Cassandra" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Arthur B. Coffin Criticism Target Robinson Jeffers
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 10 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Robinson Jeffers: Poet of Inhumanism
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