The devastation predicted by climate scientists in the latest reports is shocking. In the poem Carmel Point, Robinson Jeffers reminds us that the earth will recover without us, that in the scope of universal time, “people are a tide/That sweeps and in time will ebb.” In this Jeffers may be drawing from a “Big History“. or Deep Time view, and the insignificance of human beings in the scope of the earth’s clock. If the 4.5 Billion years of earth’s existence were seen as a 12 hour clock, the time humans are on earth would count as 19 seconds. The earth was here before humans and will continue on after us, even after all the damage we have done, he reassures us.
Jeffers seems as though he is predicting the loss of coastal homes as a result of climate change. Here the poet asks us to “unhumanize” our views. What does an unhumanized view of the world contain? Would we be even more passive, or would the urgency towards addressing climate change be different? I suppose how one the answer may be different if you are talking about second homes built on pristine coastline as opposed to the millions who may be left homeless as a result of increasing storms and drought. Is an unhumanized view one only the privileged can take?
by Robinson Jeffers
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milk cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That sweeps and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. –as for us:
We mus uncenter our minds from ourselves:
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean we were made from.