Evening Hawk

By Robert Penn Warren 1905–1989
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.

Copyright © 1985 by Robert Penn Warren.

Source: From New and Selected Poems 1923-1985 (1985)

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Poet Robert Penn Warren 1905–1989

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern


 Robert Penn Warren


A literary heavyweight, Robert Penn Warren (1905—1989) helped develop New Criticism—interpreting a poem based solely on the text—shaped how poetry was read in the 20th century. Always a Southerner at heart, Warren is well known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men, based on the Louisiana populist Governor Huey Long. Warren’s poetry, often written as historical narratives, earned two Pulitzer . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Southern


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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