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Theodore Roethke Essays

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Theodore Roethke

“Roethke was a great poet, the successor to Frost and Stevens in modern American poetry, and it is the measure of his greatness that his work repays detailed examination” (Parini 1). Theodore Roethke was a romantic who wrote in a variety of styles throughout his long successful career. However, it was not the form of his verse that was important, but the message being delivered and the overall theme of the work. Roethke was a deep thinker and often pondered about and reflected on his life. This introspection was the topic of much of his poetry. His analysis of his self and his emotional experiences are often expressed in his verse. According to Ralph J. Mills Jr., “this self interest was the primary matter of
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Roethke married Beatrice O’Connell, a former student at Bennington College, in 1953. Roethke published many volumes of poetry throughout his career. His first volume, Open House, published in 1941, was filled with images of growth and decay and had short unrhymed verses (Encarta). According to Allan Seager, “most of the reviews were good and those that contained adverse criticisms tacitly acknowledged that it was the work of a genuine poet and not a beginner” (Contemporary Authors 476). His next two volumes, The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948) and Praise to the End! (1951) were expressions of his explorations of his interior self. After reading The Lost Son and Other Poems, Richard Blessing claimed “To my mind, the transformation of Theodore Roethke from a poet of lyric resourcefulness, technical proficiency, and ordered sensibility to a poet of indomitable creativeness and audacity, difficult, heroic, moving, and profoundly disquieting is one of the most remarkable in American history” (Contemporary Authors 478). Roethke received a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Waking. Words for the Wind (1958) won both the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize. The Far Field, which was published posthumously in 1964, won the National Book Award for
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