There is an outlaw thread in Igneous Range, so one of the Robinson Jeffers poems that it reminds me of is the Summit Redwood:
First published in 1928
Reading by Kaweah
A companion lyric to Cawdor and a splendid fire-poem in its own right, The Summit Redwood has never been selected for any anthology, possibly because it appears to put “people of color” in a bad light, or perhaps because its style appears to be inconsistent. I happen to see it as a marvelous portrait of kindred defiants: a red tree and a red man.
Redwoods don’t often grow on summits, particularly on the coast, but often enough for the purposes of this poem. They are shaken by lightning commonly enough. Continue reading →
I wrote most of Igneous Range before I had any idea I was writing a Jeffers novel, thematically anyway: violence, vultures, redwoods, defiance, and above all fire. A repeating theme is the dominance of the subconscious, and there is also a sense of insanity.
Oh, and there’s genocide as well.
Toward the end of the story, Armen encounters a crazy old man in a cave who preaches the insanity of man. He does not mean that man is evil; only that man is not rational:
There are lots of intelligent animals, but there is only one mad animal.
Take the bodies of the land and the sea.
Grind them together for thirty million
and something’s bound to chip off.
Look. Not even the heart is left
hunks of Sierran granite spilled
up and down the coast;
the continent’s bones scattered
across the exposed sea floor
from Bodega Head and Point Reyes in
past the Farallons, Pinos and Lobos
down to that plutonic shard the Spanish
“the South,” where you may have heard
an older people, beyond the cliff,
up the canyon, under the shadows
of the white peak, the red giants; who
spoke in ways foreign to their neighbors.
In that country, all was life,
rock was memory, and nothing
was too inhuman
to have a name.