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Contemplation Of The Sword Analysis

Author: poem of Robinson Jeffers Type: poem Views: 10

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Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.

The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel,

        formerly used to kill men, but here

In the sense of a symbol. The sword: that is: the storms

        and counter-storms of general destruction; killing

        of men,

Destruction of all goods and materials; massacre, more or

        less intentional, of children and women;

Destruction poured down from wings, the air made accomplice,

        the innocent air

Perverted into assasin and poisoner.

The sword: that is: treachery and cowardice, incredible

        baseness, incredible courage, loyalties, insanities.

The sword: weeping and despair, mass-enslavement,

        mass-tourture, frustration of all hopes

That starred man's forhead. Tyranny for freedom, horror for

        happiness, famine for bread, carrion for children.

Reason will not decide at last, the sword will decide.

Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred

        stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries

And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this

        thing comes near us again I am finding it hard

To praise you with a whole heart.

I know what pain is, but pain can shine. I know what death is,

        I have sometimes

Longed for it. But cruelty and slavery and degredation,

        pestilence, filth, the pitifulness

Of men like hurt little birds and animals . . . if you were


Waves beating rock, the wind and the iron-cored earth,

With what a heart I could praise your beauty.

You will not repent, nor cancel life, nor free man from anguish

For many ages to come. You are the one that tortures himself to

        discover himself: I am

One that watches you and discovers you, and praises you in little

        parables, idyl or tragedy, beautiful

Intolerable God.

The sword: that is:

I have two sons whom I love. They are twins, they were born

        in nineteen sixteen, which seemed to us a dark year

Of a great war, and they are now of the age

That war prefers. The first-born is like his mother, he is so


That persons I hardly know have stopped me on the street to

        speak of the grave beauty of the boy's face.

The second-born has strength for his beauty; when he strips

        for swimming the hero shoulders and wrestler loins

Make him seem clothed. The sword: that is: loathsome disfigurements,

        blindness, mutilation, locked lips of boys

Too proud to scream.

Reason will not decide at last: the sword will decide.


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