Theodore Roethke

Stephen Matterson (Trinity College Dublin)
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Shortly after Theodore Roethke died from a heart-attack in 1963, two of his friends, Robert Lowell and John Berryman, each wrote memorable elegies. In his Dream Song “A Strut for Roethke”, Berryman wrote “The Garden Master’s gone” (20), while Lowell’s poem “For Theodore Roethke” includes the poignant lines “The black stump of your hand/ just touched the waters under the earth,/ and left them quickened with your name” (2003, 396). Both poems testify to the respect and affection that Roethke had inspired, and they also indicate some of the distinctive qualities of his poetry. Roethke is a masterful poet, and also an elemental one. While his mastery of the craft of poetry, its music and its rhythms, makes him a leading poet of the twentieth century, it is his intense…

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Citation: Matterson, Stephen. "Theodore Roethke". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 April 2011 [, accessed 29 May 2024.]

3826 Theodore Roethke 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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