poet Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren

True Love

In silence the heart raves.It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
A meaning.I was ten, skinny, red-headed,

Freckled.In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something

Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart.It
Thickens your blood.It stops your breath.It

Makes you feel dirty.You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.

How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?
Two years later she smiled at me.She
Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead.

Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen.They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work.

Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.

He never came down.They brought everything up to him.
I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.

When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing
An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him.I saw the wedding.There were

Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable.I thought
I would cry.I lay in bed that night
And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.

The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered.
She never came back.The family
Sort of drifted off.Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.

But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.
She called my name once.I didn't even know she knew it.

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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Comments about True Love by Robert Penn Warren

  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (5/2/2017 3:05:00 AM)

    This poem is very impressing. An excellently worded poem, it is really a great treat to read these lines, captivating. I have enjoyed a very lot. Thank you for sharing TRUE LOVE. Number one in the row is the poet as a boy, his boy's love for that teenage girl who got married with her man (this is number three as True Love) And number four is her Mum who loves her husband truly, because though a drunkard, she stayed with him and cared for him, though he constantly stayed on three high in that big white farmhouse. Through memories this True Love is created, the experience as a boy withe the mind, soul and heart of an adult person now. How sweet that reads!

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Read poems about / on: wedding, beautiful, daughter, family, woman, silence, father, house, work, red, beauty, heart, world, night, brother, smile, son, women