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Inventing the Language to Tell ItRobinson Jeffers and the Biology of Consciousness$
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George Hart

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254897

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254897.001.0001

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The Wound in the Brain

The Wound in the Brain

The Discoveries of the Later Poetry

(p.108) The Wound in the Brain
Inventing the Language to Tell It

George Hart

Fordham University Press

In his later poetry, both published and left in drafts after his death, Jeffers returned to the biology of consciousness and finally articulated a biopoetics that finds an evolutionary role for consciousness. This chapter examines the recurrence of key tropes from the poetry of the 1920s, particularly the skull as a container of consciousness, and finds that Jeffers adopted a view of cells as the natural basis of consciousness more in line with the emerging science of molecular biology. It also contends that Jeffers made two major discoveries in the later poetry: that language coevolved with the brain and serves a biopoetic purpose in expressing human consciousness, and, therefore, that poetry itself can accurately represent human experience of the divine cosmos rather than warp and distort our perception of it. In significant later lyrics, Jeffers finds consolation for the indignities and difficulties of aging in the idea that human consciousness will be reintegrated into natural process after death.

Keywords:   cells, skulls, evolution, biopoetics, aging, death

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