The vision will come - the Truth be revealed - but
Not even in its vaguest nature do you now know - ah! truth
About what? But deep in the sibilant dark
Of your mind, that conviction irregularly
Gleams like foxfire in sump-woods where,
In distance, lynx scream or owl stammer
Freezes the blood in a metaphysical shudder -
Which might be the first, feather-fine brush of Grace. Such
An event may well come in your deepest
Moment of loneliness, with rain on the roof,
As the season changes, and bed too wide. Or even
At moments of irrational depression. But
May come at any time, when, for instance,
The past is de-fogged and foot tracks
Of old folly show fleetingly clear, before retionalization
Again descends as from seaward.
Or even, when again the shadow of the past teasingly
Lifts, and you remember having caught
A glint of the nature of virtue like
The electrically exposed white of a flicker's
Rump feathers at the moment it flashes for the black thicket.
Or even in a section of the city
Where no acquaintance would ever come,
You watch snowflakes slash at automobile headlights
As you move toward the first
Illicit meeting, naturally at a crummy
Cafe. Your pace slows. You see her
Slip from the cab, dash for the door, dark fur coat
Collar up, head down. Inside,
As you order two highballs,
All eyes seem to focus on you. Drinks come, but
There is nothing to say. Hands
Do, damply, clutch, though no bed yet. Each stares
Into the other's eyes, like despair, and doom
Grows slow, and fat, and dark, like a burgundy begonia.
Soon, you will watch the pale silken flash
Of the well turned ankles beneath dark fur,
As she hurries away on her stolen time, cab-hunting, and the future
Scarcely breathes. Your chest is a great clot. Perhaps now.
Oh, no. It may not happen, in fact, until
A black orderly, white-coated, on rubber soles, at 5 A.M.
Enters the hospital room, suds and razor in hand, to shave,
With no greeting, the area the surgeon
Will penetrate. He goes away. No one
Comes yet. Do not give up hope.
There is still time. Watch dawn blur the windows.
Can it be that vision has, long back, come -
And you just didn't recognize it? CAPTION: Picture, ROBERT PENN WARREN, who contributed "Vision" to this inaugural issue of the new Book World, is one of America's most honored men-of-letters. He has received the Pulitzer Prize three times - in poetry for Now and Then and Promises, and in fiction for his novel, All the King's Men.