Study Guide

Bearded Oaks Time

By Robert Penn Warren

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When you hear the phrase "out of time," you might think your time's up (or you might think of an old R.E.M. album). In any case, it's hard to find time to step out of the tick-tick-tick of time, to do absolutely nothing but think and feel and be. But that's what "Bearded Oaks" is all about. In the span of 40 lines, readers of this poem can step out of their own life and enter another world, a world at once terrestrial and aquatic, a world outside time but yet somehow still within human experience. This is a poem of stillness and waiting, one silent hour stolen from the hubbub and storm of daylight's business and abrasions. It is itself a trial run for eternity. Deep, gang.

Questions About Time

  1. Why is the night described as "positive"? Why do the lovers wait for it? 
  2. Is the speaker's retreat from time successful? Why or why not? 
  3. How many time frames does this poem encompass? How do they add to your understanding and appreciation of the poem as a whole? 
  4. What do you think will happen right after this poem?

Chew on This

This is more about love than it is about time. Hooking up at a picnic is a kind of practice for eternity.

Time does not fly when you're having fun; it… slows… down. Right… Shmoopers?

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