Personal note: Ashley Bryan introduced me to Jeffers, and this poem in particular, back around the start of the second Iraq War. I already had a fairly firm grasp on the corrupt empire the United States had become, but still had a lot to learn in the coming decade-plus. It seemed to me that Jeffers could have written it at that very time, though there were many other times in which he might have written it. That it was 1925 seemed odd to me at first. The U.S. had already long launched into empire. Perhaps it was the corruption of the Roaring 20's, or perhaps he had managed to uncover an inkling of the Deep State. In any case, he was right, though he hadn't seen anything. yet...


Shine, Perishing Republic
Robinson Jeffers

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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 decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly 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 thickening 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.