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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was a poet, novelist, and literary critic. He received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for his novel All the King’s Men and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. He is the only person who has won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. From 1944-1945, Warren served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. His other honors and awards include Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980), MacArthur Fellowship (1981), designation as first U.S. Poet Laureate (1986), and National Medal of Arts (1987).

Photo: “Evening Hawk” by Tony Hisgett