A Poet’s Inspiration

When I think of a poet’s capacity to synthesize complex concepts into a single sentence or a few words, I am curious about where their insight comes from. When you dig into the poet’s background there is always a source of inspiration.

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was awarded the 1954 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Waking.  Twice, he was the recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry: 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field.

Theodore Roethke grew up in Saginaw, Michigan.  His Father and Uncle were market-gardeners, who owned a large 25 acre greenhouse.  The use of natural images in Theodore Roethke’s poetry was inspired by the many years that he spent tending the plants. He affirmed the greenhouse “is my symbol for the whole of life, a womb, a heaven-on-earth.”   His ability to convey profound emotions was rooted in the tragic deaths of those he loved. In 1923, when he was only 15, his father died from cancer and his uncle, from suicide.

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
Theodore Roethke

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