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Robert Penn Warren: A Great American Author

1716 words - 7 pages

Great American Poet Poetry is a response to the world in which we live. Many poets are, and have been, convinced that the modern world is a terrifying place in which to live. American poetry has been dominated by negative voices. Warren's voice is markedly different. At the heart of Warren's poetry is a celebration of man's intellect and imagination, his integral place within nature, and his relationship to time and the past; ultimately, joy coexists with the knowledge of life's many mysteries, including its tragedies. Beginning years ago with the traditional forms of poetry, Warren has evolved from the traditional forms of poetry to a style that is as beautiful as it is individual. His long devotion to the art of poetry has made him a great American poet.At the center of Warren's poetry are two concepts: man and self. Warren places man within nature as an integral part of it. And yet there is a crucial difference between man and the rest of the natural world. It is man's mind, his intelligence, his imagination, and his creativity that Warren emphasizes in his poetry.Also at the heart of Warren's poetry is the concept of a well-rounded self. In his best poems, Warren collects memories, experiences and thoughts, which he writes, into a single personality, a single self. In Incarnations and Or Else, the self is the poet.In Incarnations, as in Or Else, Warren asks and attempts to answer some of the biggest questions facing man. These are questions concerning the nature of the world, the nature of man, and the meaning of time and eternity. Incarnations is divided into three sections. Each of the first two sections has its own major theme, while the final section seems to be the attempted answers to the questions raised in the previous sequence.Although predominantly a philosophical poet, Warren's thoughts are generally presented in terms of suggestive images drawn from reality. Section I of Incarnations there is a long sequence of poems titled "Island of Summer." They ask questions about the natural world with a certain spirituality. The effect of such thoughts and questions attempts to get to the core of the physical world while brining meaning to life. It is an action repeated many times in the sequence. Involved in this action is a search, for certainty, for religious meaning in a chaotic world"¦. Over and over in the sequence Warren asserts that we must accept the world for what it is and for what it brings us; despite his will and his imagination, man cannot control the direction of his life... (Stitt 264-65).Time is the main concern. The way man conducts himself on earth, rather than with eternity and death although Warren also asks many questions of eternity in his works. Eternity in Warren's work is generally associated with brightness, whiteness, the sun, the sky, the sea, the snow and even with the light of the moon. We are cautioned in the sequence's first poem "What Day Is." "Do not / Look too long at the sea, for /...

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