Mr. Warren was both a friend and teacher to one of America's most prolific television writer producers, David Milch. In his book about his television series NYPD BLUE entitled, TRUE BLUE, David referred to his mentor, Robert Penn Warren...
"I hadn't been in any of Mr. Warren's classes or even met him, but I'd read all of his novels and some of his poetry. One day I approached him as he walked toward his office...I introduced myself and said I was trying to learn to write...He said he'd be happy to teach me. "
Robert Penn Warren, one of twentieth century America's most distinguished men of letters, was born in Guthrie, Kentucky, in 1905, and died in Stratton, Vermont, in 1989.
The recognition of his achievement was extensive: A member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes, and nearly all the other major American literary awards. In 1980 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was the first poet laureate of the United States.
LULLABY: SMILE IN SLEEP
Sleep, my son, and smile in sleep.
You will dream the world anew.
Watching you now sleep,
I feel the world's depleted force renew,
Feel the nerve expand and knit,
Feel a rustle in the blood,
Feel wink of warmth and stir of spirit,
As though spring woke in the heart's cold Underwood.
The vernal work is now begun.
Sleep, my son.
You will see the nestling fall.
Blood flecks grass of the rabbit form.
You will, of course, see all
The world's brute ox-heel wrong, and shrewd hand-harm.
Throats are soft to invite the blade.
Truth invites the journalist's lie.
Love bestowed mourns trust betrayed,
But the heart most mourns its own infidelity.
The greater, then, your obligation.
When the diver leaves the board
To hang at gleam-height against the sky,
Trajectory is toward
An image hung perfect as light in his mind's wide eye.
So your dream will later serve you.
So now, dreaming, you serve me,
And give our hope new patent to
Enfranchise human possibility.
Grace undreamed is grace forgone.
Dream grace, son.
Dream that sleep is a sunlit meadow
Drowsy with a dream of bees
Threading sun, and a shadow
Where you may lie lulled by their sunlit industries.
Let the murmurous bees of sleep
Tread down honey in the honeycomb.
Heart-deep now, your dream will keep
Sweet in that deep comb for time to come.
Dream the sweetness coming on.
Dream, sweet son.
What if angry vectors veer
Around your sleeping head, and form?
There's never need to fear
Violence of the poor world's abstract storm.
For now you dream Reality.
Matter groans to touch your hand.
Matter lifts now like the sea
Toward that strong moon that is your dream's command.
Dream the power coming on.
Dream, strong son.
<align=right> Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren:
- Web site honoring the life and works of Robert Penn Warren.
- The American Library Association site, with a review by Rodger Bishop.
Robert Penn Warren is the author of
All The King's Men
New and Selected Poems 1923-1985
World Enough and Time
Robert Penn Warren
New and Selected Essays
Wilderness a Tale of the Civil War