Robinson Jeffers

1887 Pittsburgh, Pa-1962

July Fourth By The Ocean by Robinson Jeffers

The continent's a tamed ox, with all its mountains,
Powerful and servile; here is for plowland, here is
for park and playground, this helpless
Cataract for power; it lies behind us at heel
All docile between this ocean and the other. If
flood troubles the lowlands, or earthquake
Cracks walls, it is only a slave's blunder or the
Shudder of a new made slave. Therefore we happy
masters about the solstice
Light bonfires on the shore and celebrate our power.
The bay's necklaced with fire, the bombs make crystal
fountains in the air, the rockets
Shower swan's-neck over the night water.... I
The stars drew apart a little as if from troublesome
children, coldly compassionate;
But the ocean neither seemed astonished nor in awe:
If this had been the little sea that Xerxes whipped,
how it would have feared us.