John Burt: On "Heart of Autumn"

Warren’s characteristic poetic method, as we have seen, is a simultaneous evasion and experience of primary truth. Warren attempts, through his alternations of confrontation and retreat, to apprehend a possessing truth without, in turn, becoming possessed by it. The shape of such poetry, its course of movement toward and away from a magnetic but destructive center, also dictates a particular presentation of the objects of Warren’s poetic concern. …

[Burt comments at length on several poems, including "Heart of the Backlog" and "Time as Hypnosis," with which he ends.]

… Even when we reel back from mortal confrontations, we remain ready, and perhaps sooner or later will be moved, to stake everything on the wild and impossible gamble that God’s love may be but the last and most mysterious word for death.

That is the gamble Warren makes in the "Hawk" poem which concludes Now and Then, "Heart of Autumn," in which the poet imagines his own death as the act of becoming one of his own birds, an act that he endows with the inevitability of the autumnal migrations of birds and that makes final sense of a career whose inner logic has not always been clear to him: [Burt quotes the entire poem.]

Details

Criticism Overview
Title John Burt: On "Heart of Autumn" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author John Burt Criticism Target Robert Penn Warren
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 20 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Landscape and Death
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