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Analysis of Roethke's Poetry

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Theodore Roethke Didn’t Know He’d be a Poet

Born in Saginaw Michigan in 1908, Theodore Roethke grew up in his parent’s home, which was built in 1911 for his parents Helen and Otto Roethke. (Theodore Roethke) This was a family estate with Theodore’s Uncle, Carl living on property as well. (Theodore Roethke) The family was in the flower business and Theodore spent many a day in the greenhouse. This is the source of many of his poems, along with his childhood experiences. Roethke is credited with saying the greenhouse, “is my symbol for the whole of life, a womb, a heaven-on-earth” (Theodore Roethke) Theodore Roethke went to school at John Moore Elementary School, and attended Arthur Hill High School, both in Saginaw Michigan. (Theodore Roethke) Roethke Attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and graduated in 1929. (Theodore Roethke) Roethke’s first book was published in 1941, and was a collection of his poems. (Theodore Roethke) Roethke received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954, for the poem “The Waking.” (Theodore Roethke) Roethke died in 1963 and is buried in Saginaw Michigan at Oakwood Cemetery. (Poet Theodore) The crux of this essay will attempt to analyze and dissect several poems by Roethke for their theme, irony, setting, and symbols.

Starting with the “Epidermal Macabre”, Roethke appears to loathe his body, his “Fleshy clothes” and his “epidermal dress” (Selected Poems of), it appears that Roethke is trying to leave his body spiritually. Roethke, according to his biography, suffered from bouts and episodes of depression. This had an impact on his writing style and the topics he chose to write about, “Epidermal Macabre” was probably written during this time. Another poem, “Open House” was proba...

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...Web. 09 May 2014.

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"Theodore Roethke - Poetry Archive." Theodore Roethke - Poetry Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2014.

"International Journal of Scottish Literature." International Journal of Scottish Literature. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2014.

"Selected Poems of T. Roethke | The Reckoning." Selected Poems of T. Roethke | The Reckoning. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2014.

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"Selected Poems of T. Roethke | My Papa's Waltz." Selected Poems of T. Roethke | My Papa's Waltz. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2014.

"Selected Poems of T. Roethke | Elegy for Jane." Selected Poems of T. Roethke | Elegy for Jane. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2014.
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