Remembering Theodore Roethke

Remembering Theodore Roethke

“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.” – Theodore Roethke, American poet and winner of both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for Poetry (twice), who died on 1 August 1963.

One of my favorite Roethke poems:

“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.

Theodore Roethke

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