Theodore Roethke


American Poet, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Author Quotes

All lovers live by longing, and endure: summon a vision and declare it pure.

How body from spirit slowly does unwind, until we are pure spirit at the end.

I remember how they picked me up, a spindly kid, pinching and poking my thin ribs till I lay in their laps, laughing, weak as a whiffed.

Love begets love. This torment is my joy.

Some have held the eye to be the instrument of lechery, more furtive than the hand in low and vicious venery-not so! Its rape is gentle, never more violent than a metaphor.

Time marks us while we are marking time.

An old man with his feet before the fire, in robes of green, in garments of adieu.

How terrible the need for God.

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils; and her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile; and how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her.

Love is not love until love's vulnerable. She slowed to sigh, in that long interval.

The body and the soul know how to play in that dark world where gods have lost their way.

Water's my will, and my way, and the spirit runs, intermittently, in and out of the small waves,

And everything comes to One, As we dance on, dance on, dance on.

I am renewed by death, thought of my death, the dry scent of a dying garden in September, the wind fanning the ash of a low fire. What I love is near at hand, always, in earth and air.

I suffered for birds, for young rabbits caught in the mower, my grief was not excessive. For to come upon warblers in early May was to forget time and death:

May my silences become more accurate.

The darkness has its own light.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?

And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions, finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica, sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium.

I came to love, I came into my own.

I swear she cast a shadow white as stone. But who would count eternity in days? These old bones live to learn her wanton ways: (I measure time by how a body sways.)

May you live out your life without hate, without grief and your hair ever blaze, in the sun, in the sun, when I am undone, when I am no one.

The fields stretch out in long unbroken rows. We walk aware of what is far and close. Here distance is familiar as a friend. The feud we kept with space comes to an end.

What falls away is always. And is near.

And what a congress of stinks!- Roots ripe as old bait, Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich, Leaf mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks, Nothing would give up life: Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

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American Poet, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Poetry