“The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

tree topsAfter posting the poem”My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke on Father’s Day, I’ve been off on  a Roethke tangent, I confess, revisiting many of my fav Roethke poems.  Here’s one that lodged itself in my brain long ago like a song that just won’t go away, yet lulling and comforting, even so. Illuminating.  I never tire of it. I may have mentioned it here once before, but surely it will be new to some of you 😉  It’s in the form of a villanelle and is exquisitely lyrical and musical.

“The Waking”
By Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

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.

________________________________________________________________
Theodore Roethke, “The Waking” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1953 by Theodore Roethke. Reprinted with the permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Doubleday, 1961)
More on this wonderful poet at THE POETRY FOUNDATION
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172106

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger.
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