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Best Famous Theodore Roethke Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Theodore Roethke poems. This is a select list of the best famous Theodore Roethke poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Theodore Roethke poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Theodore Roethke poems.

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by Theodore Roethke | |

The Sloth

 In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear, He thinks about it for a Year; And, then, before he says a Word There, upside down (unlike a Bird), He will assume that you have Heard-- A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug, He'll sigh and give his Branch a Hug; Then off again to Sleep he goes, Still swaying gently by his Toes, And you just know he knows he knows.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Cuttings

 This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?
I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it --
The small waters seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out, Slippery as fish, I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet.


by Theodore Roethke | |

My Papas Waltz

 The whiskey on your breath 
Could make a small boy dizzy; 
But I hung on like death: 
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Night Journey

 Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace, A suddenness of trees, A lap of mountain mist All cross my line of sight, Then a bleak wasted place, And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel The straining at a curve; My muscles move with steel, I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing From dark to blazing bright; We thunder through ravines And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass Mist deepens on the pane; We rush into a rain That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone, The pistons jerk and shove, I stay up half the night To see the land I love.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Pickle Belt

 The fruit rolled by all day.
They prayed the cogs would creep; They thought about Saturday pay, And Sunday sleep.
Whatever he smelled was good: The fruit and flesh smells mixed.
There beside him she stood,-- And he, perplexed; He, in his shrunken britches, Eyes rimmed with pickle dust, Prickling with all the itches Of sixteen-year-old lust.


by Theodore Roethke | |

The Waking

 I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling.
What is there to know? I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you? God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there, And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how? The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair; I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do To you and me; so take the lively air, And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady.
I should know.
What falls away is always.
And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.


by Theodore Roethke | |

The Reckoning

 All profits disappear: the gain
Of ease, the hoarded, secret sum;
And now grim digits of old pain
Return to litter up our home.
We hunt the cause of ruin, add, Subtract, and put ourselves in pawn; For all our scratching on the pad, We cannot trace the error down.
What we are seeking is a fare One way, a chance to be secure: The lack that keeps us what we are, The penny that usurps the poor.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Epidermal Macabre

 Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, --
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness: I hate my epidermal dress, The savage blood's obscenity, The rags of my anatomy, And willingly would I dispense With false accouterments of sense, To sleep immodestly, a most Incarnadine and carnal ghost.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Dolor

 I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions, Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica, Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium, Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows, Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Journey Into The Interior

 In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.
Better to hug close, wary of rubble and falling stones.
The arroyo cracking the road, the wind-bitten buttes, the canyons, Creeks swollen in midsummer from the flash-flood roaring into the narrow valley.
Reeds beaten flat by wind and rain, Grey from the long winter, burnt at the base in late summer.
-- Or the path narrowing, Winding upward toward the stream with its sharp stones, The upland of alder and birchtrees, Through the swamp alive with quicksand, The way blocked at last by a fallen fir-tree, The thickets darkening, The ravines ugly.


by Theodore Roethke | |

The Geranium

 When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.
) The things she endured!-- The dumb dames shrieking half the night Or the two of us, alone, both seedy, Me breathing booze at her, She leaning out of her pot toward the window.
Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me-- And that was scary-- So when that snuffling cretin of a maid Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can, I said nothing.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week, I was that lonely.


by Theodore Roethke | |

The Minimal

 I study the lives on a leaf: the little
Sleepers, numb nudgers in cold dimensions,
Beetles in caves, newts, stone-deaf fishes,
Lice tethered to long limp subterranean weeds,
Squirmers in bogs,
And bacterial creepers
Wriggling through wounds
Like elvers in ponds,
Their wan mouths kissing the warm sutures,
Cleaning and caressing,
Creeping and healing.


by Theodore Roethke | |

Root Cellar

 Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks! Roots ripe as old bait, Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich, Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life: Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.