The Coast Road
by Robinson Jeffers
(1887 – 1962)
from: Such Counsels You Gave To Me
A horseman high-alone as an eagle on the spur of the mountain over
Mirmas Canyon draws rein, looks down
At the bridge-builders, men, trucks, the power-shovels, the teeming end of
the new coast-road at the mountain’s base.
He sees the loops of the road go northward, headland beyond headland,
into gray mist over Fraser’s Point,
He shakes his fist and makes the gesture of wringing a chicken’s neck,
scowls and rides higher.
Believe that the life of men who ride horses, herders of cattle on the
mountain pasture, plowers of remote
Rock-narrowed farms in poverty and freedom, is a good life. At the far end
of those loops of road
Is what will come and destroy it, a rich and vulgar and bewildered
civilization dying at the core,
A world that is feverishly preparing new wars, peculiarly vicious ones, and
heavier tyrannies, a strangely
Missionary world, road-builder, wind-rider, educator, printer and
picture-maker and broad-caster,
So eager, like an old drunken whore, pathetically eager to impose the
seduction of her fled charms
On all that through ignorance or isolation might have escaped them. I hope
the weathered horseman up yonder
Will die before he knows what this eager world will do to his children.
More tough-minded men
Can repulse an old whore, or cynically accept her drunken kindnesses for
what they are worth,
But the innocent and credulous are soon corrupted.
Where is our consolation? Beautiful beyond belief
The heights glimmer in the sliding cloud, the great bronze gorge-cut sides
of the mountain tower up invincibly,
Not the least hurt by this ribbon of road carved on their sea-foot.