Heart of Autumn

By Robert Penn Warren

heart-of-autumn_imageWind finds the northwest gap, fall comes.

Today, under gray cloud-scud and over gray

Wind-flicker of forest, in perfect formation, wild geese

Head for a land of warm water, the boom, the lead pellet.

.

Some crumple in air, fall. Some stagger, recover control,

Then take the last glide for a far glint of water. None

Knows what has happened. Now, today, watching

How tirelessly V upon V arrows the season’s logic,

.

Do I know my own story? At least, they know

When the hour comes for the great wind-beat. Sky-strider,

Star-strider–they rise, and the imperial utterance,

Which cries out for distance, quivers in the wheeling sky.

.

That much they know, and in their nature know

The path of pathlessness, with all the joy

Of destiny fulfilling its own name.

I have known time and distance, but not why I am here.

.

Path of logic, path of folly, all

The same–and I stand, my face lifted now skyward,

Hearing the high beat, my arms outstretched in the tingling

Process of transformation, and soon tough legs,

.

With folded feet, trail in the sounding vacuum of passage,

And my heart is impacted with a fierce impulse

To unwordable utterance–

Toward sunset, at a great height.

.

From “The Collected Poems of Robert Penn Warren”

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