“Dreaming in Daylight” is a poem in free verse; its forty-one lines are divided into twenty unrhymed couplets plus one final, single-line phrase. The title suggests the contradictory images of darkness and light and of nighttime dreaming (in which intuition and emotion have full play) and daydreaming (which connotes rational meditation). Written from the second-person singular point of view, the poem’s only implied persona is poet Robert Penn Warren, who is also the speaker of the poem. Addressing himself as “you,” he recounts to the reader personal experiences grounded in a familiar activity: a mountain climb.
In the first two stanzas, the climber energetically clambers up rocks, through thickets, and over brooks. Stopping for breath, he quotes some verse and then perceives—in the next three stanzas—that “Small eyes, or larger, with glitter in darkness, are watching” from stone crevices, leaf shadows, and hollow logs. To the climber, the eyes of nature are “like conscience . . ./ Like remorse” judging him as an outsider who does not belong. The speaker’s interpretation of a watchful nature prepares the reader for the next fourteen lines. Falling into meditation about self, he complains of feeling a mysterious, internal, and physical unease that sparks a concern about his own identity: “Do you/ Know your own name?” Questioning himself as he questions the reader, the poet describes the sea below as a “heaving ocean of...
(The entire section is 438 words.)