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George Sterling: calm hub of wild Bohemian Carmel community

Celebrated by Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis

  • As It Was in the Beginning
  • The royal word goes forth, and armies do 
  • The work of devils. Agony and waste 
  • Are on the world, and the grim legions haste 
  • On the old war-roads that the Caesars knew. 
  • Still gleams the dreadful stain of Waterloo, 
  • On Time’s accusing record unerased; 
  • Gone are the ramparts that the Romans faced, 
  • But these the heavens where their eagles flew. 
  • Below the bleak and slowly shifting stars, 
  • Man turns him in his madness, to reveal 
  • His ancient folly and his ancient crime, 
  • And on the tragic breast austere with scars 
  • Re-girds the mail, and draws the hiked steel, 
  • Cold from the twilight battlefields of Time.
  • The Black Vulture
  • Aloof upon the day’s immeasured dome, 
  •    He holds unshared the silence of the sky. 
  •    Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry 
  • The eagle’s empire and the falcon’s home — 
  • Far down, the galleons of sunset roam; 
  •    His hazards on the sea of morning lie; 
  •    Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh 
  • Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam. 
  • And least of all he holds the human swarm —
  •    Unwitting now that envious men prepare 
  •    To make their dream and its fulfillment one, 
  • When, poised above the caldrons of the storm, 
  •    Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare 
  •    His roads between the thunder and the sun.
  • Aftermath
  • Slowly among the wounded and the slain 
  • The gleaners take the harvest of the kings, 
  • But harvest-song no joyous maiden sings, 
  • And crimson fingers lift a crimson grain. 
  • Where darkness and the powers of darkness reign, 
  • They bend above unutterable things, 
  • As far away the restless searchlight swings 
  • Its ghastly ray along the burdened plain. 
  • Well seems it that they wear a cross of red, 
  • But better seems it that this earth should bear 
  • That blazon in the concourse of the stars, 
  • (Ere the Night conquer and the sun fall dead) 
  • And ‘mid dark Signs and warring heavens glare, 
  • Disastrous, with the bloody light of Mars.
George Sterling

George Sterling (1869-1926) was an American poet who made San Francisco and the California Bay Area his base of operations, being largely responsible for making Carmel-by-the-Sea a magnet for the Bohemian artists and writers who would make the community a center of countercultural activity. He became close friends of another poet who had helped put Carmel on the literary map – Robinson Jeffers. While enjoying great popularity during his time – Sterling was celebrated by many of the literary lights of his day, including Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis – his work has fallen into neglect in more recent times. Marked by the influence of the Romantic poets, especially Shelly, Keats and Poe, Sterling’s poetry possesses a visionary and mystical quality. His diaries reveal that he served as the calm hub of the wild Bohemian community that he helped create Carmel; however, the wildness of the lifestyle eventually caught up with him – and he took his own life by ingesting cyanide two weeks short of his 57th birthday.

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  • As It Was in the Beginning
  • The royal word goes forth, and armies do 
  • The work of devils. Agony and waste 
  • Are on the world, and the grim legions haste 
  • On the old war-roads that the Caesars knew. 
  • Still gleams the dreadful stain of Waterloo, 
  • On Time’s accusing record unerased; 
  • Gone are the ramparts that the Romans faced, 
  • But these the heavens where their eagles flew. 
  • Below the bleak and slowly shifting stars, 
  • Man turns him in his madness, to reveal 
  • His ancient folly and his ancient crime, 
  • And on the tragic breast austere with scars 
  • Re-girds the mail, and draws the hiked steel, 
  • Cold from the twilight battlefields of Time.
  • The Black Vulture
  • Aloof upon the day’s immeasured dome, 
  •    He holds unshared the silence of the sky. 
  •    Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry 
  • The eagle’s empire and the falcon’s home — 
  • Far down, the galleons of sunset roam; 
  •    His hazards on the sea of morning lie; 
  •    Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh 
  • Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam. 
  • And least of all he holds the human swarm —
  •    Unwitting now that envious men prepare 
  •    To make their dream and its fulfillment one, 
  • When, poised above the caldrons of the storm, 
  •    Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare 
  •    His roads between the thunder and the sun.
  • Aftermath
  • Slowly among the wounded and the slain 
  • The gleaners take the harvest of the kings, 
  • But harvest-song no joyous maiden sings, 
  • And crimson fingers lift a crimson grain. 
  • Where darkness and the powers of darkness reign, 
  • They bend above unutterable things, 
  • As far away the restless searchlight swings 
  • Its ghastly ray along the burdened plain. 
  • Well seems it that they wear a cross of red, 
  • But better seems it that this earth should bear 
  • That blazon in the concourse of the stars, 
  • (Ere the Night conquer and the sun fall dead) 
  • And ‘mid dark Signs and warring heavens glare, 
  • Disastrous, with the bloody light of Mars.
George Sterling

George Sterling (1869-1926) was an American poet who made San Francisco and the California Bay Area his base of operations, being largely responsible for making Carmel-by-the-Sea a magnet for the Bohemian artists and writers who would make the community a center of countercultural activity. He became close friends of another poet who had helped put Carmel on the literary map – Robinson Jeffers. While enjoying great popularity during his time – Sterling was celebrated by many of the literary lights of his day, including Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis – his work has fallen into neglect in more recent times. Marked by the influence of the Romantic poets, especially Shelly, Keats and Poe, Sterling’s poetry possesses a visionary and mystical quality. His diaries reveal that he served as the calm hub of the wild Bohemian community that he helped create Carmel; however, the wildness of the lifestyle eventually caught up with him – and he took his own life by ingesting cyanide two weeks short of his 57th birthday.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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