Words that sustain

Today, I thought I’d post a poem that I keep returning to; the author is Theodore Roethke, who is perhaps my favorite American poet.

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.v

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One thought on “Words that sustain

  1. z says:

    roethke is my favorite american poet. on this we agree.

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