cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Poet Appreciation #3: Robert Penn Warren


Better known as a novelist, and perhaps as a scholar, Robert Penn Warren did provide some formidable poetry to ponder. You might be more familiar with his All the King’s Men, which garnered him the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, then his Pulitzer Prize collection Now and Then: Poems, 1976-1978. In all, he was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, two being for poetry.  His southern background influenced his writing, particularly leaning towards the agrarian appreciation of the land. Receiving accolades and honors throughout his career, Warren left a rich legacy of both prose and poetry.

Image of U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Penn Warren

Image of U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Penn Warren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vision
by Robert Penn Warren

I shall build me a house shall build me a house where the larkspur blooms
In a narrow glade in an alder wood,

Where the sunset shadows make violet glooms,
And a whip-poor-will calls in eerie mood.

 
I shall lie on a bed of river sedge,
And listen to the glassy dark,
With a guttered light on my window ledge,
While an owl stares in at me white and stark.
I shall burn my house with the rising dawn,
And leave but the ashes and smoke behind,
And again give the glade to the owl and the fawn,
When the grey wood smoke drifts away with the wind.

Like Cather’s poetry about the prairie, Warren provides a strong connection to nature. His diction is amazing the way it influences the imagery: “violet glooms,” “guttered light,” “glassy dark”. I don’t even notice the rhyme, it’s so fluid. Whether they poem is taken for its metaphorical meaning or literal, it doesn’t matter to me–I simply want to savor it, rather than analyze it. Good writing is like a good sunset in that words aren’t always sufficient to explain why the beauty is so moving.

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6 thoughts on “Poet Appreciation #3: Robert Penn Warren

  1. He’s one of my favorite writers just because of All the King’s Men. Every time I read it, his poetic writing style amazes me. Thanks for the reminder to read up on more of his poems.

  2. I could just say “glassy dark” over and over to myself and be quite happy.

  3. I had never read this poem before – and now I am smitten! Gosh darn I wish I could make words dance like that!

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