Study Guide

Bearded Oaks Stanza 8

By Robert Penn Warren

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Stanza 8

Lines 29-32

(Our feet once wrought the hollow street
With echo when the lamps were dead
At windows; once our headlight glare
Disturbed the doe that, leaping fled.)

  • Wild—this stanza is enclosed in parenthesis, which makes these lines seem like an aside from our speaker, as in "By the way…"
  • From the vast and abstract, the speaker turns to the particular and the worldly with a description of a past time and place.
  • We're no longer under those trippy, undersea oak trees with bad stuff dropping on our heads.
  • Instead, "we"—and by that "our" he might mean the couple or a bigger "we" of everyone—used to be in a city (or at least a street), albeit one that was empty with the lights out. Things seem pretty desolate and abandoned.
  • Reading on, it seems that "we" were not just in a city; more specifically we're in a car. Well, that's better than walking—almost. We say "almost" because the car's headlights "disturbed" a deer (a doe's a deer, a female deer…), which runs away.
  • Even in the past, it seems, this couple was isolated. Their very presence seemed to drive off any sign of natural world, as symbolized by the doe.
  • You know how, sometimes, you look back at the past and wish things now could be more like then? Yeah, this is not one of those times. The imagery in this stanza's recollection doesn't shake the desolation. In fact, it may be worse.

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