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The Waking

Theodore Roethke

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Added by: Dea
Being a rather sleepy person, this poem has always been my favorite. It seems to say that no matter what we plan in life, we end up finding out what we need to know and survive anyway.
Added by: chris
this is one of my favorite poems ever. i enjoy the meter the rhyme the subject matter .dont worry about your fate ,take your waking slow
Added by: darraugh
This poem reminds me that I should focus on one day at a time. I should not be afraid of the things I do not know and I should not fear them when I confront them
Added by: charles hecht-leavitt
I think this poem was written while Ted had a hangover. This is not to trivialize the poem. I think it's great, and its content can be generalized.
Added by: angela
this poem gets to me like no other. calming and serene.
The Waking -- Roethke
Added by: Thomas N. Thompson
Unlike the others who comment on this poem, I find it mightily unsettling and not a little frightening. Nothing "serene" here, but rather the contrast between our fascination with life ("waking") and longing for death ("sleep") and Roethke finds death much more compelling -- which may in some sense explain his subsequent suicide, or what some thought was suicide.

Roethke takes his waking slow because life fails to be comprehensible, the "light takes the Tree" but we cannot know how. Thus it is only in darkness we are truly safe, even if that means giving up the only life we know. The thing "great nature" has to do is, of course, to kill us, in the end. "What falls away is always," and thus the impermanence of life. The "lively air" for Roethke, is in the sleep of death, not life. People who think otherwise are truly whistling in the dark. Still . . . it's a lovely poem.
Added by: Jen
This poem has everything to do with the circle of life. "I wake to sleep and take my waking slow."--> I live to die and take my life slow. Death is the end result for everyone..so take your time through life...sit back and smell the roses.
Added by: Charlie
This poem is not "delightful" nor is it "calming" or "serene." The poem is about death! and how the boy sleeps so much and takes his waking slowly, because it is closer to death! Everyone who has comented has agreed that this poem is so great, and how it reminds us to "take one day at a time" in some peaceful way. But in fact this poem has no peace in it from the eyes of this boy.
My very important opinion
Added by: Lisa G.
Just because this poem is about death, assuming it is (I do see it as being that) doesn't mean it can't be calming and serene, at least to some people, myself included. Not everyone rages against the dying of the light.

I take the line "I feel my fate in what I cannot fear" to mean he has calmly accepted the fact that he will die someday. This motivates him to enjoy life and to ignore the irritations that come with it, because they won't last long. This reminds me of the verse 2 Cor. 4:18: "So we do not look at what we can see now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to what we have not yet seen. The troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever."

I bet Roethke wrote this poem to try to bring himself comfort in the midst of his depression. I find the mood very positive, for one thing because the poetic voice trusts life and death to teach him everything he needs to learn. OK, I'll stop now.
Added by: Emily
While, I would not say that the mood of this poem is necessarily positive, I definitely do not feel that it is negative. Although, Roethke is commenting on death, he does so in a removed fashion, which may be what causes the poem to have a seemingly serene tone. The speaker has accepted the his inevitable fate and finds comfort in the darkness awaiting him. Perhaps he believes that the cycle will continue and after the darkness of death the light of life will shine again, but that is a matter to be decided on a personal basis.

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