Evening Hawk - Parma City School District

“Evening Hawk”
Robert Penn Warren
Stanza I - II
From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the gutteral gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fail of stalks of Time.
The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.
Stanza I-II
• Syntax
– Use of commas to convey the gliding and
swooping of the hawk
– Creates graceful rhythm within the poem and the
movements of the hawk
– Cuts of suddenly in line 6 “His wing”
Stanza I-II
• Imagery /tone
– “The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the putteral gorge,
The Hawk comes”
• Image of darkness and night approaching
• The last light on earth before death – climax of the
person’s life
• Urgency
Stanza I- II
• Personification/ metaphor
• The wing of the hawk = scythes bringing night?
• Grimm Reaper
• Bringing death?
– “The crashless fall of stalks of Time”
• Wing= scythe
• “stalks of Time” = life
• The unforeseen dives and slicing motion of wings represent
the unforeseen nature of death.
• Hawk is a symbol of the inescapability of time.
Stanza I-II
• Tone
• “Tumultuous avalanche”
• “The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our
– Urgent and heavy
– Relates to the theme of death and passing of time
– Hawk not restrained by material possessions
Stanza III
Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow
Stanza II
• Imagery/ diction
– “light” used repetitively throughout
• Focus not on death, but last light on earth
• “Shadow, unforgiving”
– Power and last bit of light, not darkness
• Symbol
– Hawk as bringing the darkness of death
• “unforgiving”
• “Who knows neither Time nor error”
Stanza IV
Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp Hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.
Stanza IV
• Juxtaposition of images
– “The last thrush is still , the last bat”
• Song bird verses nocturnal bird
• The hawk descends into where the bats reign
• The sunset the unforgiving hawk brings the dying day to
its end
Stanza IV
• Simile
– “The star/ Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain”
• Setting sun replaced by single bright star
• Brings hope to those whom have departed from the
light of day
Stanza IV
• Allusion
– Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
– “our nature in its education and want of education”
• Group of people chained in cave, facing the wall
• Watch shadows projected on wall as things pass by a
fire behind them
• It is all they know of reality
• Theme of passing of time and humans not aware of it
• The philosopher is able to go beyond the cave and
discover true reality
Stanza IV
• Metaphor
– “The last bat” lives in darkenss – holds truth of
– “The coming Hawk” lives in daylight and dim of
evening – holds power of day
– Death consuming life
Stanza V
If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.
Stanza V
• Failure of humans to realize we are losing time
• “our error”
• The scythe of the hawk cuts down human
errors of man and lets them fall away without
• Theme of death and passing of time

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