The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

After the Dinner Party
By Robert Penn Warren

You two sit at the table late, each, now and then,
Twirling a near-empty wine glass to watch the last red
Liquid climb up the crystalline spin to the last moment when
Centrifugality fails: with nothing now said.

What is left to say when the last logs sag and wink?
The dark outside is streaked with the casual snowflake
Of winter's demise, all guests long gone home, and you think
Of others who never again can come to partake

Of food, wine, laughter, and philosophy --
Though tonight one guest has quoted a killing phrase we owe
To a lost one whose grin, in eternal atrophy,
Now in dark celebrates some last unworded jest none can know.

Now a chair scrapes, sudden, on tiles, and one of you
Moves soundless, as in hypnotic certainty,
The length of table. Stands there a moment or two,
Then sits, reaches out a hand, open and empty.

How long it seems till a hand finds that hand there laid,
While ash, still glowing, crumbles, and silence is such
That the crumbling of ash is audibile. Now naught's left unsaid
Of the old heart-concerns, the last, tonight, which

Had been of the absent children, whose bright gaze
Over-arches the future's horizon, in the mist of your prayers.
The last log is black, while ash beneath displays
No last glow. You snuff candles. Soon the old stairs

Will creak with your grave and synchronized tread as each mounts
To a briefness of light, then true weight of darkness, and then
That heart-dimness in which neither joy nor sorrow counts.
Even so, one hand gropes out for another, again.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in today's Washington Post Book World: "Robert Penn Warren's late poetry is, to my mind, his most enduring work. It has great spiritual earnestness, deep tragic grandeur and joy." Hirsch called "After the Dinner Party" Warren's "most tender poem of old age."

Am posting very early (i.e., late the night before) because we will be out all morning for Mitzvah Day at our synagogue, which in our case will mean volunteering at a local school for disadvantaged children. My sister is coming into town with her three girls so we will undoubtedly be tied up visiting with them, too. And Maryland won, meaning that we will all be gathered around the TV to see whether they can beat Duke for the ACC title...unlikely, but at least the Terps will likely get a good tournament draw now.

Had in-laws here today; ate a lot, did some hiking, played with the kids, watched the Maryland and Connecticut games which both ended favorably. Spent a quiet evening looking at this screen and finished all three articles for which I am responsible tomorrow since I won't be here most of the day to work on them.

This is not really true but what the heck:

Which 1990's Subculture Do You Belong To?

[Another Quiz by Kris @]

And this is UTTERLY not true! Gacked from beckyo who is apparently a bigger threat than I am; I think her results apply better to me than this one! Must work on becoming a much better threat.

I Am An Atheist
Threat rating: extremely low. You may think you can
subvert the government, but if you should try
you will be smited mightily because God likes us best.
What threat to the Bush administration are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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