Robert Penn Warren

(April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989 / United States)

Dead Horse In Field Poem by Robert Penn Warren


In the last, far field, half-buried
In barberry bushes red-fruited, the thoroughbred
Lies dead, left foreleg shattered below knee,
A .30-30 in heart. In distance,
I now see gorged crows rise ragged in wind. The day
After death I had gone for farewell, and the eyes
Were already gone—that
The beneficent work of crows. Eyes gone,
The two-year-old could, of course, more readily see
Down the track of pure and eternal darkness.

A week later I couldn’t get close. The sweet stink
Had begun. That damned wagon mudhole
Hidden by leaves as we galloped—I found it.
Spat on it. As a child would. Next day
The buzzards. How beautiful in air!—carving
The slow, concentric, downward pattern of vortex, wing-glint
On wing-glint. From the house,
Now with glasses, I see
The squabble and pushing, the waggle of wattle-red heads.

At evening I watch the buzzards, the crows,
Arise. They swing black in nature’s flow and perfection,
High in sad carmine of sunset. Forgiveness
Is not indicated. It is superfluous. They are
What they are.

How long before I go back to see
That intricate piece of
Modern sculpture, white now,
Assuming in stasis
New beauty! Then,
A year later, I’ll see
The green twine of vine, each leaf
Heart-shaped, soft as velvet, beginning
Its benediction.

It thinks it is God.

Can you think of some ground on which that may be gainsaid?

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Edited: Thursday, September 08, 2011

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