Monday, July 21, 2014

Analysis of "Vision" by Robert Penn Warren

Original poem reprinted online here: "Vision" by Robert Penn Warren
Originally read: November 17, 2014
More information about the Poet: Robert Penn Warren


Quatrains with adjusted lines.  Furthermore the rhyme scheme alternates (abab) which portends the separation between man and nature in this poem.  To me, this poem seems to be a riff on the pastoral.

The poem starts off with the typical sentiment of the pastoral, "I shall build me a house where the lakspur blooms / In a narrow glade in an alder wood"  note how specific the language is here with "laksupur" and "alder" which not only indicates a certain region, but also a certain commitment to the idea based in comfort.

Even so, this speaker has thought out this idea maybe a bit too much, "Where the sunset shadows make violet glooms, / And a whip-poor-will calls in eerie mood."  Note how direct thee speaker states "eerie mood" as though not to trust the images to depict such a mood.  Does the poem get "eerie" the further the poem goes?

"I shall lie on a bed of rive sedge, / And listen to the glassy dark,"  The answer to my previous question is no.  Why not?  The poem is more of a push and pull, like a formal argument, to riff on the pastoral rather than to constantly attack points.  With these lines, the speaker seems okay with the "eerie" -- this sort of "glassy dark".

"With a guttered light on my window ledge, / While an owl stares in at me white and stark" and here is the eerie -- somewhat.  I don't feel like the owl stare has enough impact in the poem to carry the "eerie" since all it does is stares.  Creepy, yes.  Eerie, maybe. But note with these lines have the language and the imagery of something dark with "guttered light" but the juxtaposition of the comfortable and the eerie mutes each other out meaning that a bigger impact has to be done.

"I shall burn my house with the rising dawn, / And leave but the ashes and smoke behind," this is drama.  Yes, the burning of the house is dramatic, but when the speaker leaves but the ashes and smoke it seems he's leaving an extended metaphor.  As I stated, the metaphor could be the riff on the pastoral, or it could be a rise against a personal "eeriness" -- burning a home down has many implications.

"And again give the glade to the owl and the fawn, / When the grey wood smoke drifts away with the wind."  And here's where I think the poem is more against the pastoral (form) since the intentional behind the burning the house down is to return the place to the "owl and the fawn"  -- or rather not only leave behind what is built but also what was there already.

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