Last month in California, my father loaned  me his special desktop copy of Robinson Jeffers Selected Poems.  I was on a pilgrimage to Tor House, but first, five days in my feel-good place.

Dad's book at the Jeffers' Cornerstone

Within hours of arriving at the land of my solo retreat, I was out of sorts and feeling stuck.  Searching for clues, I flipped through pages of poetry and found the somber piece “To the Stone-cutters” (entire work can be read here).  My journal entry begins by quoting the last line.  One that seems even more relevant now as I try to glean some nectar from the words I wrote during that expansive time.

Here’s an excerpt from day one, as I began to unravel in that coastal dwelling.

“The honey of peace in old poems…”  Robinson Jeffers

‘Dance Church’ is next door and the bass is pumping.  I know that I love to dance but there are reasons I am here, not there:  jet lag, no sleep, bloodshot eyes, bad music, closed circuits, just don’t feel like it.

I peek in the window and be the voyeur that watches but doesn’t want to take the plunge.  Sixty happy people move and jump in a mass of ecstatic wildness.  A man exits, sees my indecision and encourages me to go inside.  I tell him that I am just too tired.

“I was too, but it woke me up…”

Eventually, I enter.  Somewhere around the Van Halen song, “Jump”, (that’s right, ‘go ahead and jump!’) I’m telling myself that I just can’t dance to this.  But then I try it anyway.  David Lee Roth’s mantra segues into something more palatable and I’m soon a member of the congregation, dancing my own kind of freedom.  My state is altered, my body enlivened and I get so into it that when Dance Church is over and it’s time for dinner, I can barely eat.

Later I’m in the hot springs on a new moon in the starlight.  A bath with myself and two women – silent.  After a long while one begins to gently sing:  “When I am in the light of my soul I am home.”

She sings this line quietly for a short time then slowly exits the bath.  More silence, warm water and calm.”

Ahh…the honey of peace in old poems.

2 thoughts on “The Honey of Peace

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