Friday, April 28, 2017

Muted Music by Robert Penn Warren

Page 565

Muted Music
by Robert Penn Warren


As sultry as the cruising hum
Of a single fly lost in the barn's huge, black
Interior, on a Sunday afternoon, with all the sky
Ablaze outside--so sultry and humming
Is memory when in barn-shade, eyes shut,
You lie in hay, and wonder if that empty, lonely,
And muted music was all the past was, after all.
Does the past now cruise your empty skull like
That blundering buzz at barn-height--which is dark
Except for the window at one gable, where
Daylight is netted gray with cobwebs, and the web
Dotted and sagged with blunderers that once could cruise and hum?

What do you really know
Of that world of decision and
Action you once strove in? What
Of that world where now
Light roars, while you, here, lulled, lie
In a cunningly wrought and mathematical

Box of shade, and try, of all the past, to remember
Which was what, what, which.  Perhaps
That sultry hum from the lone bumbler, cruising high
In shadow, is the only sound that truth can make,
And into that muted music you soon sink
to hear at last, at last, what you have strained for
All the long years, and sometimes at dream-verge thought

You heard--the song the moth sings, the babble
Of falling snowflakes (in a language
No school has taught you), the scream
Of the reddening bud of the oak tree

As the bud bursts into the world's brightness.


**
Now why did I like this poem?
Well at the end of life it does seem like memory is a fly buzzing in a dark place and only sharp sensual images remain.  I loved the last part of the poem where the other languages of the world are sensed finally in dream and in hard straining effort--the truth of things in muted music.


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