Calvin Bedient: On "Evening Hawk"
Warren’s most strenuous "Platonic" poem, "Evening Hawk," is torn between image and idea. As image, the hawk enshrines the poet’s Nietzschean love of heroism: as idea, it is the Platonic Good, the Platonic True. The poem attempts to break into allegory with
Look! Look! He is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor Error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
The poet cannot know all this except by wanting to believe it; here the mind ceases to be wholly realist, universal, and manly and becomes sharply, universally judgmental.
With its rhythmical loveliness – an evening lull quickened by hawk-motions – and its unrepentent sensory vividness, which triumphs at the end, and most of all the hawk’s animal vigor, the poem stays alive, however fought over from inside. The emotion remains true and intact, because the poet is not contemptuous of vitality per se, but only of vitality that fails. Here, vitality in its full power is consonant with Platonic freedom from death and error.
|Title||Calvin Bedient: On "Evening Hawk"||Type of Content||Criticism|
|Criticism Author||Calvin Bedient||Criticism Target||Robert Penn Warren|
|Criticism Type||Poet||Originally Posted||20 May 2020|
|Publication Status||Excerpted Criticism||Publication||His Varying Stance|
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