THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THEODORE ROETHKE by Theodore Roethke

THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THEODORE ROETHKE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

We must permit Poetry to extend consciousness,"" said the late Theodore Roethke, ""as far, as deeply, as particularly as it Can, to recapture... what it has lost to some extent to prose."" Roethke's work covers roughly twenty-five years during which he produced six volumes of verse, each of which was remarkably exploratory, far ranging in both technique and thematic concerns, an unusual achievement for a poet generally classed as a lyricist. One can, through the Collected Poems, an important publishing event, follow this rare and at times thoroughly disturbing development, as one senses beneath the overall musical qualities an almost agonized personal search, a visionary descent into the troubling biographical or mythic areas, and note how out of so much despair (Roethke was frequently institutionalized) and darkness, a wonderfully affirmative voice developed, illuminating at once both the physical and spiritual worlds. One can also note the surprisingly individual nuances Roethke vas capable of sustaining, since the poet reacted to many influences: the quirky idiom of Lear and Carroll, the vers Libre of Eliot and Pound, the romanticism of Wordsworth and Whitman, the stanzaic virtuosity of Auden, above all the lordly manner of Yeats. During his middle period, we find a muddle of metaphysical and surrealistic elements, but as we read further the obscurities tend to clear and brilliantly imagistic observations and fine philosophical correspondences forcefully, movingly relate as the themes of love, nature and self-recovery take root.

ISBN: 0385086016
Publisher: Doubleday