Ascent To The Sierras
Beyond the great valley an odd instinctive rising
Begins to possess the ground, the flatness gathers
to little humps and
barrows, low aimless ridges,
A sudden violence of rock crowns them.
orchards end, they
have come to a stone knife;
The farms are finished; the sudden foot of the
Hill over hill,
snow-ridge beyond mountain gather
The blue air of their height about them.
Here at the foot of the pass
The fierce clans of the mountain you'd think for
thousands of years,
Men with harsh mouths and eyes like the eagles' hunger,
Have gathered among these rocks at the dead hour
Of the morning star and the stars waning
To raid the plain and at moonrise returning driven
Their scared booty to the highlands, the tossing horns
And glazed eyes in the light of torches.
The men have
Standing above these rock-heads to bark laughter
At the burning granaries and the farms and the town
That sow the dark flat land with terrible rubies.
lighting the dead.
It is not true: from this land
The curse was lifted; the highlands have kept peace
with the valleys; no
blood in the sod; there is no old sword
Keeping grim rust, no primal sorrow.
The people are
all one people, their
homes never knew harrying;
The tribes before them were acorn-eaters, harmless
earth; you must find someone
To make you bitter music; how else will you take bonds
of the future,
against the wolf in men's hearts?
by Robinson Jeffers
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