Robert Penn Warren

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

Quotations

  • ''The oaks, how subtle and marine!
    Bearded, and all the layered light
    Above them swims; and thus the scene,
    Recessed, awaits the positive night.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Bearded Oaks (l. 1-4). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
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  • ''So little time we live in Time,
    And we learn all so painfully,
    That we may spare this hour's term
    To practice for Eternity.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Bearded Oaks (l. 37-40). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Huckleberry Finn is a companion piece to Tom Sawyer, but a companion piece in reverse, a mirror image; it is the American un-success story, the story that had been embodied in Leatherstocking, proclaimed by Thoreau, and was again to be embodied in Ike McCaslin of Faulkner's The Bear, the drama of the innocent outside of society. Tom's story ends once he has been reclaimed by society, but Huck's real story does not even begin until he has successfully penetrated the world of respectability and, in the well-meaning clutches of the Widow and Miss Watson, begins to chafe under the ministrations.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet, critic, novelist. "Mark Twain," New and Selected Essays, Random House (1981).
  • ''But it thought no bed too narrow—it stood with lips askew
    And shook its great head sadly like the abstract Jew.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Original Sin; a Short Story (l. 24-25). . . New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, The. Donald Davie, ed. (1981) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Nodding, its great head rattling like a gourd,
    And locks like seaweed strung on the stinking stone,
    The nightmare stumbles past,''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Original Sin; a Short Story (l. 1-3). . . New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, The. Donald Davie, ed. (1981) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Later you hear it wander the dark house
    Like a mother who rises at night to seek a childhood picture;
    Or it goes to the backyard and stands like an old horse cold in the
    pasture.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Original Sin; a Short Story (l. 43-45). . . New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, The. Donald Davie, ed. (1981) Oxford University Press.
  • ''the pomp
    Of pain swells like the Indies, or a plum''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Pursuit (l. 13-14). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  • ''The doctor will take you now. He is burly and clean;
    Listening, like lover or worshiper, bends at your heart.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Pursuit (l. 21-22). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  • ''She blinks and croaks, like a toad or a Norn, in the horrible light,
    And rattles her crutch, which may put forth a small bloom, perhaps
    white.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Pursuit (l. 49-50). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  • ''In Florida consider the flamingo,
    Its color passion but its neck a question.''
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), U.S. poet. Pursuit (l. 31-32). . . Modern American Poetry. Louis Untermeyer, ed. (8th rev. ed., 1962) Harcourt, Brace and Company.

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Tell Me a Story

Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse.I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart.

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