Free-verse narrative by Jeffers, published in 1927. A “Prelude” reveals the author's personal philosophy, which in this narrative, as in “Tamar” and “Roan Stallion,” reasserts the need “to uncenter the human mind from itself.” It also constitutes a “warning” against abuses or irrelevant applications of such an idea.
Dr. Barclay, a preacher in a California coast town, after learning of the death of his son in the World War, announces to his congregation that “Christianity is false,” and that he is leaving them to create a new religion based on energy and violence. He goes to a farm near Point Lobos, where he elaborates his mystical faith, preaching to the trees and stones of the desolate mountainside, and “breaking from the mold” of his former gentleness and continence. Convinced thatAll the relations of the world have changed in a moment.If there was anything forbidden you may do it,he sleeps with the Indian serving-woman Maruca, and then, having achieved “deliverance,” goes mad with an indiscriminate lust that causes him to rape his daughter April and infects all the residents of the Morhaus farm, including the daughter Natalia, who murders her child to rectify the “sin” of bearing it; Randal, Natalia's husband, and Faith Heriot, her lesbian lover, whom Randal has previously possessed; and even crippled old Morhaus. The insane liberation of evil impulses that Barclay's nihilism has effected ends with April's suicide and her father's escape to starve to death in the hills, where he thinks “on the nothing Outside the stars, the other shore of me, there's peace.”
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Robinson Jeffers (1887—1962)