Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SWIMMING IN THE PACIFIC, by ROBERT PENN WARREN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SWIMMING IN THE PACIFIC, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: At sunset my foot outreached the mounting pacific's
Last Line: Like a dream all years moved to
Subject(s): Swimming & Swimmers; Pacific Ocean

At sunset my foot outreached the mounting Pacific's
Last swirl as tide climbed, and I stood
On the mile-empty beach and the dune-lands. Turned then, and saw
Beyond knotting fog-clots, how Chinaward now
The sun, a dirty pink smudge, grow larger, smokier,
Flatter. Then sank.
Through sand yet sun-hot, I made to my landmark -
A gray cairn to guard duck pants (not white now), old drawers.
Old sneakers, T-shirt, and my wallet, no treasure
At dune-foot, I dressed,
Eyes westward, sea graying, one gull at
Great height, but not white-bright, the last
Smudge of sun being gone.
So I stood and I thought how my years, a thin trickle
Of sand-grains? - years I could then
Count on fewer than fingers and toes - had led me
Again and again to this lonesome spot where the sea
Might, in mania howl, or calm, lure me out
Till the dunes were profiled in a cloud-pale line, nothing more,
Though the westering sun lured me on.
But beachward by sunset, drawn back
By the suction of years yet to come -
So dressed now, I wandered the sand, drifting on
Toward lights of the city in distance, and pondered
The vague name of Time, that trickled like sand, and was life.
But suppose, after all the sorrow and joy, after all
Love and hate, excitement and roaming, failure, success,
And grains that had long trickled past
And now certainly could not
Be readily counted on fingers and toes - suppose
I should rise from the sea as of old in my nakedness,
Find my cairn, find my clothes, and in gathering fog,
Wander toward the lights of the city of men, what answer at last
Could I give my old questions? Unless,
When the fog closed in I simply lay down, on the sand supine, and up
Into grayness stared, and staring,

Saw your face, slow, take shape
Like a dream that all years had moved to.

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