Written just after the outbreak of World War II, these two poems rectify the pain of the poet who can see the puppeteers clearly as the mass of puppets dance maddeningly upon their unguessed strings. This reader takes these two poems together as Jeffers’ reconciliation with the evil world, chanting toward a bleak serenity:
“The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.”
-Be Angry at the Sun
“It is not Europe alone that is falling
Into blood and fire.
Decline and fall have been dancing in all men’s souls
For a long while.”
Jeffers, in these efforts, stands like Dante, having decided to forgo Virgil’s tour of Damnation, intuiting its depths and placing it in context before its dreary conclusion, the course charted by its instigators enough to guide his imagination to the bitter end.
A Partial Exhumation of the American Dream