Evening Hawk describes a hawk flying around, and its viewpoint, during sunset. Robert Penn Warren uses his poetic language to describe the majestic hawk, and relates it to embracing how powerful life is. He talks about Time, and the world to show us the different aspects of life..
The first stanza has many references to geometry, with “plane of light” and “black angularity”. Warren is paints a picture of a perfect place through his use of mathematical terms. He talks about light, and describes the contrast with the darkness of the peak. He uses these lines to describe the setting that the hawk is flying through and exploring. The reader gets the impression that the hawk is going from the light of the setting sun, and into the darkness of the mountain willingly, representing how life has its ups and downs.
The second stanza focuses on a different aspect of life: aging. The hawk “Scythes down another day”, showing how we are always losing time. The scythe is a reference to Kronos, who was considered the Titan of time by the Greeks, wielding the same weapon. The rest of the stanza talks about time passing, such as the “crashless fall of stalks of Time”. The next stanza, of one line, states that we all have regrets, that each stalk is “heavy with the gold of our error”. Warren is also alluding to increasing consumerism, which happened during his lifetime, by using the word gold.
The fourth stanza references the Sun. The “last light” alludes to this, but the phrase “world… swings into shadow” makes it clear. Warren is trying to say that only celestial objects can be perfect. Humans make mistakes, and inanimate objects cannot make mistakes.
The last two stanzas describe how all humans can do is learn while we live. Warren mentions a bat whose “wisdom, Is ancient, too, and immense”, telling us that there are other creatures than the hawk, who are part of this world. He is telling us to be like the bat, and learn as much as we can while fumbling through life, before Time catches up to us and the inevitable happens. The description of history “drip in darkness” is simply reinforcing that humans must learn about our past as well. He is asking us to make sure that history is embraced in the light, and not forgotten in a cellar.
Warren uses his language, with powerful diction and allusions, to describe the scene and convey his interpretation of the meaning of life, and how humans can do better. While he may be a little critical of our society, similar to Albee, his words have good intentions behind them. He is hopeful that humans can change the way we look at life.