Sunday, November 13, 2011


At Second Hand?

From Ian Jackson:
The opening lines of the Jeffers poem quoted in What's the best life for a man (8th Nov) suggest to me not that RJ had Sophocles and Petronius at his fingertips, but that he was modishly conversant with such modern poets as Yeats and Eliot. (I have no edition of Jeffers in the house, let alone an annotated text to check, so I have no way of knowing whether my remark is idle folly or conventional wisdom).

Petronius's passage about the Sibyl appears in Eliot's "Waste Land", and is, I suspect, RJ's source. The Sophocles was translated, more or less, by Yeats. I was about to send the text to you, but found that you had posted it (s.v. Yeats and Sophocles) six years ago. Jeffers was, of course, highly influenced by WBY, not least in his politics and his tower-fixation. There is an excellent short book by Theodore Ziolkowski, The View from the Tower: origins of an anti-modernist image (Princeton U.P. 1998), which deals with the towers of Yeats, Jeffers, Rilke and Jung.
Robert J. O'Hara also mentioned the Waste Land connection to me.

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