Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poem for the Sabbath

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.

--Theodore Roethke


Cece said...

Interesting. I like it. I hope you are having a good sabbath.

Jimmy Bastard said...

"I learn by going where I have to go."

Is there no end to your beauty and your talents? The music of your soul continues to soothe even the most savage of beasts.

Anonymous said...

Ah Leah, I am wrestling with this one- I am going to have to read it a few more times- it seems like one of those poems you have to allow time to sink in and settle.
So I'll be back!

Anonymous said...

This poem is frustrating me! I could not understand it at first- have never read it before. My initial thoughts were that I liked the rhythm, reminded me of being on a swing, swinging back and forth, going nowhere, just enjoying the swing.

Then I get on google (my curiosity needs to be satisfied..I will never get my cleaning done today) and I find it has a structure- called a villanelle- reminiscent of a French peasant circle dance- SO CLEVER!!! I love structures. The architecture of poetry. And he has followed the structure perfectly. Hence the feeling of swinging (or dancing). The rhythms of life, the circle of life.

I still don't 'get' it though. As a morning person, who leaps out of bed as soon as I am awake, I cannot take my waking slow. We wake to sleep, we live to die, I get that bit. But what is the 'lively air'? 'the Light' and 'the Tree'?, 'the lowly worm' and the 'staircase'? the'shaking'?

Oh Leah, what have you done to me today..this is going to drive me MAD.

Skeeter said...

Hi Leah,

I like it!

Best wishes,


Candie Bracci said...

Really nice poem here and yeah,have a good sabbath!

MJ said...

Celery, raw
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.

--Ogden Nash

Leah said...


Further Reflections on Parsley
by Ogden Nash

Is gharsley.

Leah said...

MJ: also, and equally profound

Samson Agonistes
by Ogden Nash

I test my bath before I sit,
And I'm always moved to wonderment
That what chills the finger not a bit
Is so frigid upon the fundament.

Leah said...

Thanks Cece!

Jimmy--I find this soothing too, very philosophical...

Cinnamon--I love Roethke, but his poems are I think deceptive. The language is plain and simple, the meaning more opaque. My sister and I spent many's the evening discussing this and others. I have a feeling about its meaning, but have a hard time articulating it. And the villanelle form is really really hard to do. The other famous villanelle is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle." I love that one as well...soooo depressing though...

Megan said...

I like Roethke, too.

Brandy Rose said...

"I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow"
My favorite verse.