The poem “Evening Hawk” by Robert Penn Warren is a beautiful and hauntingly poetic piece of literature. It recounts the majestic flight of a hawk as it soars through an evening sky, and its powerful imagery has captivated readers for decades. In this analysis, we will examine the symbolism contained in the poem and its overall message.
The hawk, compared to a reaper from the opening line of the poem “Hehaw”, cuts through time and in turn creates a metaphor for man himself. The hawk’s flight is swift and it cuts ‘stalks of time,’ though those stalks remain uncut in their entirety.
In this way, we can think about how individuals come and go but leave only parts or smudges on history: we create ripples in space-time that often disappear before anything truly significant is achieved. No matter our efforts to delay death or evade mistakes, eventually each individual will pass away with little more than a few fading memories left behind.
In the passage, Warren appeals to readers’ senses – sight and sound – to set the scene and illustrate the majesty of nature. He then launches into a longer narrative comparing human grandeur with that of nature: “On this meadow, nothing overpowers or lasts:/ One force to encourage, one will quicken the rest.
Men have made monuments from whence their worth may pass/ Into time’s farther reaches; but grace is here.” Here he implies that although our attempts at immortalizing ourselves through art are doomed for eventual failure, nature remains steadfast in its ability to move us all.
And with the movement comes a sunset. It’s beauty not easily replicated or quantified, but one can certainly observe the details of the finite number of moments associated with it and be grateful for them.
The gradual lowering of the sun brings us a wealth of oranges and pinks that stretch across an awe-inspiring sky. Before long, however, these fleeting moments are gone; yet they always leave us with something to remember as we bid goodbye to another day: hope for tomorrow’s gorgeousness.
Next, Warren details the “red-eyed reapin’ of the Hours”. Here, he employs a metaphor for time by comparing it to a worker in a field reaping crops; this means that like people who vigorously work their land, hours and days exhaustively harvest humans. Warren underscores his point again: each hour carries an added weight of grief because of all its mistakes within.
The hawk teaches humility in the face of our own accomplishments, as well. In this way, it reminds us that even when we achieve something great or important, life moves on and all too soon a new challenge is presented. As the Earth continues to spin, so should we push forward without standing idle within culture’s fast-paced environment and seek out our next goal.
The hawk’s skillful departure demonstrates its mastery over nature; it surpasses any man-made machine of flight. Warren implies that if a mere bird can understand the joy of such simple pleasures, then one should think how much more people could benefit from something as fundamental as observing and appreciating the inevitable movement of time. In this way, our own lives could become bonded to nature in a deeper and more meaningful level — an idea which is important to understanding Warren’s poem.
The poem, then, is ultimately a work that encompasses both acceptance and joy; in accepting the destruction of yesterday’s struggles, Warren finds an opportunity for reinvention. As he says “now we have each day to live and play. Now it Is time to fly away!”
In other words, there is beauty and freedom found in forgetting. The hawk displays this message wonderfully as it transitions from controlled structure to carefree abandon. It gives us permission to feel relief when life feels too heavy – a reminder that all that matters is living today fully with hope for tomorrow.
Warre gives all of this barely any importance; he treats it like a footnote to his poem, focusing instead on the pureness of the natural world. This is Warre’s way of expressing the idea that whether we are aware or not there will always be something left behind from our presence on earth and in nature – an imprint, if you will.
A momentary glimpse into mankind’s inevitable conclusion decades, or even centuries later. Though Warre does not mention any change specifically, readers can infer from this stanza that human legacies may diminish but never go away entirely.
In conclusion, Warren argues that life is much bigger than the present. He implores people to be still and listen to the world, and understand that changes in both nature and history will continue on with or without them.
People should therefore strive to make a mark on their environment so future generations can look back at them fondly, instead of being weighed down by mistakes made in the past. By choosing hope over despair humans can realize they are part of something much larger than themselves: They are part of a never-ending cycle where humankind can leave an imprint for those who follow after them.
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