Last updated: June 26, 2019
Topic: ArtPoetry
Sample donated:

Robert Penn Warren Essay, Research Paper

April 2001

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Great American Poet

Poetry is a response to the universe in which we live. Many poets are, and have been, convinced that the modern universe is a terrorizing topographic point in which to populate. American poesy has been dominated by negative voices. Warren & # 8217 ; s voice is markedly different. At the bosom of Warren s poesy is a jubilation of adult male s mind and imaginativeness, his built-in topographic point within nature, and his relationship to clip and the yesteryear ; finally, joy coexists with the cognition of life s many enigmas, including its calamities. Get downing old ages ago with the traditional signifiers of poesy, Warren has evolved from the traditional signifiers of poesy to a manner that is every bit beautiful as it is single. His long devotedness to the art of poesy has made him a great American poet.

At the centre of Warren & # 8217 ; s poesy are two constructs: adult male and ego. Warren places adult male within nature as an built-in portion of it. And yet there is a important difference between adult male and the remainder of the natural universe. It is adult male & # 8217 ; s head, his intelligence, his imaginativeness, and his creativeness that Warren emphasizes in his poesy.

Besides at the bosom of Warren & # 8217 ; s poesy is the construct of a all-around ego. In his best verse form, Warren collects memories, experiences and ideas, which he writes, into a individual personality, a individual ego. In Incarnations and Or Else, the ego is the poet.

In Incarnations, as in Or Else, Warren asks and efforts to reply some of the biggest inquiries confronting adult male. These are inquiries refering the nature of the universe, the nature of adult male, and the significance of clip and infinity. Embodiments is divided into three subdivisions. Each of the first two subdivisions has its ain major subject, while the concluding subdivision seems to be the attempted replies to the inquiries raised in the old sequence.

Although preponderantly a philosophical poet, Warren s ideas are by and large presented in footings of implicative images drawn from world. Section I of Incarnations there is a long sequence of verse forms titled Island of Summer. They ask inquiries about the natural universe with a certain spiritualty. The consequence of such ideas and inquiries efforts to acquire to the nucleus of the physical universe while brining significance to life. It is an action repeated many times in the sequence. Involved in this action is a hunt, for certainty, for spiritual significance in a helter-skelter universe. Over and over in the sequence Warren asserts that we must accept the universe for what it is and for what it brings us ; despite his will and his imaginativeness, adult male can non command the way of his life & # 8230 ; ( Stitt 264-65 ) .

Time is the chief concern. The manner adult male conducts himself on Earth, instead than with infinity and decease although Warren besides asks many inquiries of infinity in his plants. Eternity in Warren & # 8217 ; s work is by and large associated with brightness, whiteness, the Sun, the sky, the sea, the snow and even with the visible radiation of the Moon. We are cautioned in the sequence & # 8217 ; s first verse form What Day Is. Do non / Look excessively long at the sea, for / That brightness will rinse out your orbs. Religious fate will non be achieved through a preoccupation with infinity: for the Sun has / Burned all white, for the Sun, it would / Burn our castanetss to chalk. In that way lies merely the certainty of decease ( Stitt 265 ) .

Though a concentration upon infinity leads merely to a dead terminal, Warren suggests that a concentration on the universe, alternatively, may take us to the replies we seek: We must seek / To love so good the universe that we may believe, in the terminal, in God. The promise in this statement is given its fullest intervention in the singular verse form which occupies exactly the centre of the sequence: Myth on Mediterranean Beach: Aphrodite as Logos. The figure of Aphrodite here is an old kyphosis in Bikini an old Automaton with pince-nez and hair bleached gold, whose chests hang down like saddle-bags and whose belly sags to equilibrate the bulge. She walks along the border of the beach. The text has a spiritual tone, for glorification attends her as she goes. / In ecstasy she now heaves along, she is The miracle of the human fact. The promise is suggested in the word, which Warren attaches to her in the rubric, Logos the originative Word of God. Her advancement has a bound terminal: & # 8220 ; For she treads the path the blessed know / To a shore far lonelier than this / Where waits her apotheosis. & # 8221 ; All eyes are drawn to her as she progresses. She seems to incarnate Warren & # 8217 ; s ultimate hope from the verse form before, Treasure Hunt: The panic is, all promises are kept. / Even felicity. We all hope that the promises made in our earthly universe will be kept when we will travel on to a better topographic point.

Warren has been composing the sorts of verse form sequences found in Or Else Poem / Poems 1968-1974 since the in-between 1950ss and is the maestro of the signifier. The signifier is basically a book of single wordss and a individual long verse form. Or Else is an effort to explicate the universe and the life of the poet. Or Else is composed of memories, scenes and visions drawn from Warren s life. He writes these events down in an effort to understand their significance in his universe and how they relate to him and his universe. The position of

the work is that of an aged adult male approaching the terminal of his life. His head is filled with inquiries about clip and infinity as the terminal of his life attacks.

In order to understand this procedure of inquiry and reply through sequences of verse forms Warren has accumulated a broad assortment of discontinuous elements and placed them together in hopes of happening continuity. He explains his method at the terminal of one of the longer verse forms entitled, I Am Dreaming of a White Christmas: The Natural History of a Vision:

All points listed above belong in the universe

In which all things are uninterrupted,

And are parts of the original dream which

I am now seeking to detect the logic of. This

Is the procedure whereby hurting of the yesteryear in its pastness

May be converted into the hereafter tense

Of joy.

Warren tries to travel through hurting from the past and present to a promise of joy in the hereafter. The yesteryear is of import in this sequence. There are elements drawn from Warren & # 8217 ; s ain experience. Each one exists merely in clip already by but inquiries infinity and the hereafter. Often an image of clip will be set against an image of infinity. Warren is most interested in happening his reply in nature. Then he presents his reply through the images found in nature.

The last verse form in the sequence, titled & # 8220 ; A Problem in Spatial Composition, & # 8221 ; is another carefully designed piece in which the images, either entirely or in combination, are implicative of a concluding promise. The poet looks westward through a window, across a wood toward the scene Sun, typifying his expression to what the hereafter holds for him. The clip is tardily, tardily in the twenty-four hours, tardily in the twelvemonth and late in the life. Although the promise of infinity is present in the distant sky, Warren brings the Earth together with the sky and infinity in his description of the mountains: & # 8220 ; Beyond the distance of wood, bents that which is bluish: / Which is, in cognition, a tall scarp of rock, grey, but now is / In the truth of perceptual experience, stacked like a mass of bluish cumulus. & # 8221 ;

The cardinal character in the scene is a hawk. The 3rd portion of the verse form consists of a individual line: & # 8220 ; The hawk, in an eyeblink, is gone. & # 8221 ; The hawk & # 8217 ; s instantaneous disappearing from the scene is metaphor for adult male & # 8217 ; s disappearing from the Earth at decease. One second we are here. The following we are gone. When he resumes his flight, the bird returns to the ageless sky, holding merely spent a comparatively short sum of clip on Earth. The hawk in this verse form is correspondent to the spirit of adult male. & # 8220 ; For what approval may a adult male hope for but / An immortality in / The loving watchfulness of decease? & # 8221 ; This is Warren s ultimate & # 8220 ; definition of joy, immortality in decease, which dominates Warren & # 8217 ; s poesy.

While the single verse forms here may be viewed as single units, they have a much greater significance and impact when viewed in context. Warren seems to acknowledge this rule as relevant to the universe as a whole. The events in individual verse forms emphasize the person and have a local significance within each verse form or series. But when placed in a larger context these units show their greater significance.

A diversified author, Robert Penn Warren was the first poet laureate of the United States. Twice he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poesy ; one time in 1958 for Promises and once more in 1979 for Now and Then. His major plants include 15 volumes of poesy and 10 novels, including All the King s Men, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1947. Warren was born in Guthrie, Kentucky, April 24, 1905 and died of malignant neoplastic disease in Stratton, Vermont, September 15, 1989.

Plants Consulted

Bloom, Harold. [ Now and Then: Poems 1976-1978 ] . Critical Essays on Robert Penn Warren. Ed. William Bedford Clark. Massachusetts: Prentice-Hall, 1981. 74-76.

Bloom, Harold. Sunset Hawk: Warren s Poetry and Tradition. Southern Renascence Man: Positions of Robert Penn Warren. Ed. Walter B. Edgar. Louisiana: Louisiana UP, 1984. 59-79.

Blotner, Joseph. Robert Penn Warren: A Biography. New York: Random, 1977.

Clements, A. L. Sacramental Vision: The Poetry of Robert Penn Warren. Critical Essays on Robert Penn Warren. Ed. William Bedford Clark. Massachusetts: Prentice-Hall, 1981. 216-233.

Justus, James H. The Achievements of Robert Penn Warren. Louisiana: Louisiana UP,1981.

Plumly, Stanley. Warren Selected: An American Poetry, 1923-1975. Robert Penn

Warren: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Richard Gray. New Jersey: Prentice-

Hall,1980. 132-142.

Ransom, John C. The Inklings of Original Sin [ Selected Poems, 1923-43 ] . Critical Essays on Robert Penn Warren. Ed. William Bedford Clark. Massachusetts: Prentice-Hall, 1981. 32-36.

Stitt, Peter. Robert Penn Warren, the Poet. The Southern Review. 7.2, Spring ( 1976 ) :261-76.

Warren, Robert Penn. Selected Poems 1923-1975. New York: Random, 1976.

Zabel, Morton D. Problems of Knowledge: [ Thirty-six Poems ] . Critical Essays on Robert Penn Warren. Ed. William Bedford Clark. Massachusetts: Prentice-

Hall, 1981. 23-25.