Spring 1942 • Vol. IV No. 2 Poetry |

Original Sin: A Short Story

Nodding, its great head rattling like a gourd, And locks like seaweed strung on the stinking stone, The nightmare stumbles past, and you have heard It fumble your door before it whimpers and is gone: It acts like the old hound that used to snuffle your door and moan. You thought you had lost it when you left Omaha, For it seemed connected then with your grandpa, who Had a wen on his forehead and sat on the veranda To finger the precious protuberance, as was his habit to do, Which glinted in sun like rough garnet or the rich old brain bulging through. But you met it in Harvard Yard as the historic steeple Was confirming the midnight with its hideous racket, And you wondered how it had come, for it stood so imbecile, With empty hands, humble, and surely nothing in pocket: Riding the rods, perhaps—or grandpa's will paid the ticket. You were almost kindly then, in your first homesickness, As it tortured its stiff face to speak, but scarcely mewed; Since then you ha

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Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was one of the preeminent authors of the twentieth century: a poet, novelist, and literary critic who was one of the founders of New Criticism. He earned a master's degree at the University of California, studied at New College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; he taught at Vanderbilt, Louisiana State, the University of Minnesota, and Yale University. Warren was a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He received the Pulitzer Prize three times, for All the King's Men (1946) and for poetry (1958 and 1979). Three years before his death, he was appointed the first poet laureate of the United States.

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Switzerland

By Robert Penn Warren

Nodding, its great head rattling like a gourd, And locks like seaweed strung on the stinking stone, The nightmare stumbles past, and you have heard It fumble your door before […]

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