Saturday, June 24, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Robert Penn Warren (1905 – 1989)


American poet, novelist, and literary critic, and one of the founders of New Criticism.
Robert Penn Warren
The poet is in the end probably more afraid of the dogmatist who wants to extract the message from the poem and throw the poem away than he is of the sentimentalist who says, "Oh, just let me enjoy the poem."
Warren quotes
If, in the middle of World War II, a general could be writing a poem, then maybe I was not so irrelevant after all. Maybe the general was doing more for victory by writing a poem than he would be by commanding an army. At least, he might be doing less harm. By applying the same logic to my own condition, I decided that I might be relevant in what I called a negative way. I have clung to this concept ever since — negative relevance. In moments of vain-glory I even entertain the possibility that if my concept were more widely accepted, the world might be a better place to live in. There are a lot of people who would make better citizens if they were content to be just negatively relevant.
Warren
The poem... is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see — it is, rather, a light by which we may see — and what we see is life.




Warren Robert Penn quotes
A young man’s ambition — to get along in the world and make a place for himself — half your life goes that way, till you’re 45 or 50. Then, if you’re lucky, you make terms with life, you get released.
Warren Robert Penn
Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something.
Robert Penn Warren quotes
She never came back. The family
Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.
But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.
She called my name once. I didn't even know she knew it.
Robert Penn Warren
Here is the shadow of truth, for only the shadow is true.
Warren Robert Penn quotes
In separateness only does love learn definition.
Warren
We are right to see power prestige and confidence as conditioned by the Civil War. But it is a very easy step to regard the War, therefore, as a jolly piece of luck only slightly disguised, part of our divinely instituted success story, and to think, in some shadowy corner of our mind, of the dead at Gettysburg as a small price to pay for the development of a really satisfactory and cheap compact car with decent pick-up and road-holding capability. It is to our credit that we survived the War and tempered our national fiber in the processs, but human decency and the future security of our country demand that we look at the costs. What are some of the costs?
Blood is the first cost. History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that. It was real blood, not tomato catsup or the pale ectoplasm of statistics, that wet the ground at Bloody Angle and darkened the waters of Bloody Pond. It modifies our complacency to look at the blurred and harrowing old photographs — the body of the dead sharpshooter in the Devil's Den at Gettysburg or the tangled mass in the Bloody Lane at Antietam.
Warren Robert Penn
Tell me a story.
In this century, and moment, of mania,
Tell me a story.
Make it a story of great distances, and starlight.
The name of the story will be Time,
But you must not pronounce its name.
Tell me a story of deep delight.
Robert Penn Warren
The end of man is knowledge but there's one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it would save him.




Robert Penn Warren quotes
I've been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but writing was always first. It's a kind of pain I can't do without.
Robert Penn Warren
Then let us turn now — you to me
And I to you — and hand to hand
Clasp, even though our fable be
Of strangers met in a strange land
Who pause, perturbed, then speak and know
That speech, half lost, can yet amaze
Joy at the root; then suddenly grow
Silent, and on each other gaze.
Warren quotes
Everything seems an echo of something else.
Warren Robert Penn
The lack of a sense of history is the damnation of the modern world.
Warren Robert Penn quotes
For fire flames but in the heart of a colder fire.
All voice is but echo caught from a sound-less voice.
Height is not deprivation of valley, nor defect of desire.
But defines, for the fortunate, that joy in
which all joys should rejoice.
Robert Penn Warren
If you could not accept the past and its burden, there was no future, for without one there cannot be the other, and [...] if you could accept the past you might hope for the future, for only out of the past can you make the future.
Robert Penn Warren quotes
Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.
I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse. I heard them.
I did not know what was happening in my heart.
Robert Penn Warren
I know that any discussion of the relation of this poem to its historical materials is, in one perspective, irrelevant to its value; and it could be totally accurate as history and still not worth a dime as a poem. I am trying to write a poem, not a history, and therefore have no compunction about tampering with non-essential facts. But poetry is more than fantasy and is committed to the obligation of trying to say something, however obliquely, about the human condition. Therefore, a poem dealing with history is no more at liberty to violate what the writer takes to be the spirit of his history than it is at liberty to violate what he takes to be the nature of the human heart. What he takes those things to be is, of course, his ultimate gamble.
Warren Robert Penn
So little time we live in Time,
And we learn all so painfully,
That we may spare this hour's term
To practice for Eternity.


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