Wednesday, May 12, 2010

She - Theodore Roethke

 This is one of his more anthologized poems - and the second one in this blog - but that's not a reason to exclude it.   Comparing his imagery to, say Rod McKuen, is like comparing a Ferrari to  a Trabant: they both get you to a destination, but the rides are totally different.  Reading Roethke is always a joy to me because I can feel new pathways, new ways of seeing connections.  

This poem always conjures up for me that opening shot in "The Sound of Music",  when Julie Andrews is on a hill-top meadow singing "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music".  She is so full of joy and exhilaration twirling, her arms and face to the sky.  This has that same euphoric joy and innocence.... and more.  Roethke's talent/genius is in seamlessly slipping in the sexual imagery without distracting from the overall "wholesomeness".   It's one of my favorite poems.

I think the dead are tender. Shall we kiss? –
My lady laughs, delighting in what is.
If she but sighs, a bird puts out its tongue.
She makes space lonely with a lovely song.
She lilts a low soft language, and I hear
Down long sea-chambers of the inner ear.

We sing together; we sing mouth to mouth.
The garden is a river flowing south.
She cries out loud the soul’s own secret joy;
She dances, and the ground bears her away.
She knows the speech of light, and makes it plain
A lively thing can come to life again.

I feel her presence in the common day,
In that slow dark that widens every eye.
She moves as water moves, and comes to me,
Stayed by what was, and pulled by what would be.
                                                                                               Theodore Roethke - American

No comments: