The Summit Redwood

by Robinson Jeffers

Only stand high a long enough time your lightning
will come; that is what blunts the peaks of
But this old tower of life on the hilltop has taken
it more than twice a century, this knows in
Cell the salty and the burning taste, the shudder
and the voice.

The fire from heaven; it has
felt the earth's too
Roaring up hill in autumn, thorned oak-leaves tossing
their bright ruin to the bitter laurel-leaves,
and all
Its under-forest has died and died, and lives to be
burnt; the redwood has lived. Though the fire
It cored the trunk while the sapwood increased. The
trunk is a tower, the bole of the trunk is a
black cavern,
The mast of the trunk with its green boughs the
mountain stars are strained through
Is like the helmet-spike on the highest head of an
army; black on lit blue or hidden in cloud
It is like the hill's finger in heaven. And when the
cloud hides it, though in barren summer, the
Make their own rain.

Old Escobar had a cunning trick
when he stole beef. He and his grandsons
Would drive the cow up here to a starlight death and
hoist the carcass into the tree's hollow,
Then let them search his cabin he could smile for
pleasure, to think of his meat hanging secure
Exalted over the earth and the ocean, a theft like a
star, secret against the supreme sky.

Last updated May 02, 2015