Evening Hawk

Evening Hawk

By Robert Penn Warren
From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics.His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense.The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.


I was only recently introduced to the poetry of Robert Penn Warren. But I fell madly in love in a very short space of time. Here, before you, is one of my favorites. His use of language is almost disorienting: transforming verbs into adjectives and nouns into verbs. But it retains the imagery and weight and momentum until the valley is filled with shadow, and I am left wondering what exactly is the significance.

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