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'The Yellow Dancer'
Original Sin by Robinson Jeffers, 1948

"The man-brained and man-handed ground-apes, physically

The most repulsive of all hot-blooded animals

Up to that time of the world; they had dug a pitfall

And caught a mammoth, but how could their sticks and stones

reach the life in that hide? They danced around the pit, shrieking

With ape excitement, flinging sharp flints in vain, and the stench of their bodies

Stained the white air of dawn; but presently one of them

Remembered the yellow dancer..."

In a word spasm of brutal edification, Jeffers indicts our species in the cradle—preternaturally guilty of world-killing ages before it split the atom—a predictively aggressive and inherently ugly life form that taught itself how to kill and eat meat and in that sense became terminally self-created.

The first third of the poem is drawn above, as if this work were the inspiration of Arthur C. Clarke's primal opening scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey. I encourage the reader to find the rest of the poem in print, in the small, widely available pocket volume, Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems

Books by James LaFond

Add Comment
Phil BApril 2, 2017 7:56 PM UTC

If I remember correctly, it is a poem called The Original Sin and the yellow dancer is fire ...

Sheesh! That's a memory form about 45 years back if I am correct!
responds:April 3, 2017 4:38 PM UTC


Fire it is.
SnitchApril 2, 2017 7:11 PM UTC

FFFIIIRRREEE ! Awesome poem ? Thanks for introducing me to Jeffers.
responds:April 3, 2017 4:39 PM UTC

It has been my pleasure, Snitch.