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29 April 2010

It bears repeating

This is one of the very first poems I discovered, when I discovered poetry; at that time I knew nothing of villanelles, or indeed, of Theodore Roethke, although he was born in Saginaw, Michigan – and don't you think, at the very least, that schools could teach kids the significant poets of their own state? Good god, when I think of the times these words have consoled me, and given me courage. Why do we rob our children of these voices? Why do we rob ourselves?



THE WAKING
by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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