Robert Penn Warren's Why Boy Came to Lonely Place Explication

Essay by iamgeniusHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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Robert Penn Warren's "Why Boy Came to Lonely Place" is a poem of a man looking back at his past self. The lone character of the poem, who remains nameless, is in search of his true identity. He is alone, unnoticed, and wandering. He is running from something, and is unsure of his own reality in this cruel and unforgiving world. Now, as an adult, he is looking back at himself as a thirteen-year old, and wondering who he is and what he has become.

Warren's "Why Boy Came to Lonely Place" starts by describing a peaceful location away from everything. The speaker of the poem is an adult who is talking to himself at the age of thirteen. This boy, who is completely alone, has traveled to this serene place. The speaker starts a trend of uncertainty when he states "I do not know why I have these miles come" (line 4-5).

Much like Nora in "A Doll's House" he questions his true identity and worth. Like a cloud, he wanders aimlessly with no purpose or reason. All the time wondering would anyone have care if he never existed. The words "crumbling" and "ragged" (lines 12,13) help show just how bleak his existence really is. The speaker believes he is no more than a name when he says, "You say the name they gave you. That's all you are" (line 18). He believes that life is no more than a series of possibilities that just occur and is not truly real. He mourns his solitary existence, and is left to wonder why he has come to this lonely place.

Looking back on his past, the speaker tries to make sense of his meager state. He has wandered to this place only to find himself completely alone.