Monday, November 22, 2010

The Surly One - Theodore Roethke

If this is the only Roethke poem you will read here, you'll be doing yourself a disservice.  Pleeease "click" on his name on the left and check out the others!  He has written some of the most dazzling love poems that I know: joyous, playful, with imagery that will surprise by their freshness.  This one is short and, thus, might look simple and not worth a second read.... but take your time!  Boil some water, and while the tea steeps let the lines loose among your emotional memoriesYou will be surprised at what they can stir up, if you let themI like #1, perhaps because of my fondness for single malt whiskeys, as they evoke my chosen connection to Scotland.  (However, unlike Roethke, I SIP, not slug them down to drown memories.)  In #2, it's how he condenses so much truth in the last two lines. 
 The Surly One


When true love broke my heart in half ,
I took the whisky from the shelf,
And told my neighbors when to laugh.
I keep a dog, and bark myself.


Ghost cries out to ghost –
But who’s afraid of that?
I fear those shadows most
That start from my own feet.

                                                                Theodore Roethke

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