Robert Hass: A Look into his Career and “San Pedro Road”

Robert Hass is a contemporary American poet who in addition to writing poetry, is known for translating and being a critic of Polish poetry and Japanese Haikus. Hass is recognized for his clarity of expression, conciseness, imagery, and the fact that he draws inspiration from everyday life. Contemporary poet Forrest Gander says that Hass’ “work similarly attends to the details of quotidian life with remarkable clarity” and has a gift for “musical, descriptive, meditative poetry.” Hass is also known for being an academic in the field, receiving a PhD and MA in english from Stanford University and currently teaches in Poetry and Poetics at UC Berkeley. As for awards and recognition, Hass served as U.S. poet laureate from 1995-1997, won the pulitzer prize and national book award Time and Materials in 2007.

One poem by Robert Hass, titled San Pedro Road vividly describes a scene of someone fishing at a creek surrounded by nature and wildlife. This poem really captured my interest because of the extreme level of description employed by Hass. I also enjoyed the theme of nature being prevalent throughout the poem. For example, one phrase that encompasses both aspects is “casting, up a salt creek in the sea-rank air, Fragrance of the ferny anise, crackle of field grass in the summer heat.” In that phrase Hass is able to display the smells and sights being seen by the narrator which helps the reader to connect and understand what he is feeling. Another phrase that struck me was “Today in the ferocious, pointless heat I dream, Half in anger, of the great white bass, The curious stripers, bright eyed, rising to the bait, Flickering in muddy bottoms, feeding the brakish channels.” I enjoyed this line and thought it was effective in portraying a scene of fishing because of the emotions found within and the way Hass describes the fish. He uses “great white bass” to make the point of nature being powerful and respected and he uses “curious stripers” to show that nature still is young and has much to experience. Robert Hass was able to take a leisurely activity (fishing) and turn it into a beautiful story full of emotion, vivid imagery, and nature. San Pedro Road is one of Hass’ most simple but yet most enjoyable poems and goes to show how talented of a poet he is.

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