Root Cellar Poem Essay

Root Cellar Poem Essay-49
Edited by Edward Hirsch; The Library of America, American Poets Project, 2005; 158 pages; .FROM THE DUST JACKET: From the recollections of his youth in Michigan to the visionary longings of the poems written just before his death, Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) embarked on a quest to restore wholeness to a self that seemed irreparably broken.

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You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt. Schuyler, though, is not the kind of botanist that Roethke is, but I love Schuyler's poetry, so maybe that's a secondary subject.

"Among American poets," I said, "no one other than James Schuyler and Roethke are such ardent botanists. Roethke grew up in his father's greenhouse; the metaphorical nature of plants was always secondary for him. What they were like, what it felt like to touch them, and look at them, and be around them.

And painful." "On another subject, I must admit that I am driven mad when I read poems that get the flowers wrong -- an autumn chrysanthemum, for instance, growing next to a new early-summer-flowering sweet pea." Mr. "This is one of the legacies of Romanticism," he suggested, "that flowers and plants have a metaphorical value and seem to prettify something.

John Clare was already complaining about this in the 19th Century.

In the words of editor Edward Hirsch, "He courted the irrational and embraced what is most vulnerable in life." Hirsch's selection and perceptive introduction illuminate the daring and intensity of a poet who, in poems such as "My Papa's Waltz" and "The Lost Son," reached back into the abyss of childhood in an attempt to wrest self-knowledge out of memory.

Roethke's true subject was the unfathomable depths of his own being, but his existential investigations were always shaped and disciplined by an exacting formal stringency, as equally at ease with Yeats's vigorous cadence ("Four for Sir John Davies") as with the spacious Whitmanian idiom on display in the virtuoso efforts of This gathering of Roethke's works also includes several of his poems for children, and a generous sampling from his notebook writings, offering a glimpse of the poet at work with the raw materials of language and ideas.I think that he put himself to school on other poets. His relationship to her and to Auden and to others was important to him.There was an element in his friendships, especially with those who were older than he was, of the student to teacher or apprentice to the master." We talked a bit about Roethke's social difficulties, among them his tendency, at social gatherings, to get drunk and provoke fights. And he seemed most uncomfortable when he "went East" and roistered among the East Coast poetry and academic mandarinate. Hirsch offered, "There's a kind of innocence about him and also a kind of outsiderness.The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray; The badger turns and drives them all away. I think she's a clear influence on Roethke also in the way she structured a poem." Hirsch writes in his introduction that Roethke "loved the catchy, strongly stressed rhythms of children's verse." "You really hear those rhythms in the poems," Mr. "You can hear it in his work." "And in his own life," I said, "he was in many ways a big, chubby child." "A big bear of a man," Mr.Though scarcely half as big, demure and small, He fights with dogs for hours and beats them all. Hirsch added, "with a lot of childish traits." "Part of Roethke's great contribution to American poetry was his work as a teacher.And Louise Bogan also, Roethke had a deep relationship with.But mostly I think he felt entirely outside the poetry establishment." Mr.He was devoted to the craft of poetry and to the rhythm and the sound; to the words and to the passion that drives poetry. For Richard Hugo, Carolyn Kizer, James Wright, David Wagoner, Tess Gallagher -- he convinced them that they had it in them to make poems." I mentioned that years ago I had sat in on some of Richard Hugo's undergraduate poetry-writing classes at the University of Montana.He instilled the love of poetry in everyone that he taught. "I was amazed," I said, "at how kind Hugo was to his students. I don't think he was so insanely kind." "Who was Roethke's most important teacher?In the worst of poems, he found one line or one word to praise." "I don't know that Roethke was as generous," said Mr. " "I don't think he had traditional teachers who were important to him.At the University of Michigan I don't think the teachers were very important to him.


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