Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Theodore Roethke


Today is the birthday of American poet Theodore Roethke. He wrote some incredibly resonant short poems, including My Papa's Waltz (← this is Roethke reading it) and Root Cellar. Here is another that might be thought of as a companion piece to Root Cellar.



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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.
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Dark enough for ya? If ever there was a description of the process that is spring (along with Root Cellar), this is it.


best,
Don


Note: If you would like to receive the two current issues of Lilliput Review free (or have your current subscription extended two issues), just make a suggestion at the Near Perfect Books page. How about Roethke then, eh?

6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

love the "sheath-wet" ending.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles:

That certainly brings it home, in so many senses of the word.

Don

Greg Schwartz said...

those are great poems, but i especially like "cuttings." it definitely turns things on their head.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, there is something about "Cuttings:" a smell you can taste ...

Don

Theresa Williams said...

Roethke is one of my favorite poets. Instead of celebrating his birthday, I usually celebrate the day of the first occurrence of his mental condition. That's because it changed him, for better or for worse, and it made life and writing such a challenge for him, but he carried on. Here is last year's tribute. I'm not sure what I'll do this year. http://theletterproject.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/special-delivery-35-36-37-38/

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Great idea, nice post. Could there be anything more Buddhist:

“We think by feeling. What is there to know?” –Theodore Roethke

Don