Theodore Roethke


Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was a German American poet, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Roethke earned his BA and MA from the University of Michigan. Roethke’s poetry was known for its characteristic natural imagery and introspection. Source

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,

I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;   

I hear my echo in the echoing wood—

A lord of nature weeping to a tree.

I live between the heron and the wren,   

Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.


What’s madness but nobility of soul

At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!   

I know the purity of pure despair,

My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.   

That place among the rocks—is it a cave,   

Or winding path? The edge is what I have.


A steady storm of correspondences!

A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,   

And in broad day the midnight come again!   

A man goes far to find out what he is—

Death of the self in a long, tearless night,   

All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.


Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.   

My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,   

Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?

A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.   

The mind enters itself, and God the mind,   

And one is One, free in the tearing wind.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Mental Health

Literary Devices:


a situation that seems to contradict itself


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


The use of multiple words with the same root in different forms.

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered