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The opening line of Robinson Jeffers’s “Shine, Perishing Republic” was written nearly one hundred years ago, but it holds bitter relevance to our current moment: “America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire.” Yet the poet’s verse doesn’t simply take aim at the United States’ imperial ambitions—it takes aim at human civilization as a whole. Over the course of his career, Jeffers grappled with humanity’s ugliness and its detrimental impact on the environment, never arriving at sentimental conclusions. As Erik Reece argues in the September issue of Harper’s Magazine, Jeffers’s work—both its line of argument and its focus—is worth reappraising at a time when climate catastrophe looms. In this episode of the podcast, Reece speaks with web editor Violet Lucca and discusses deep time, extinction, and hope. Read Reece’s article here: This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

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