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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