Elegy for Jane
How we cite our quotes:
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love: (20)
Being an elegy, it seems reasonable that we would end up at a grave. But Roethke gets a little more specific: it's a damp grave. Including the word damp gives us a better sense of the setting—perhaps the ground is wet because it is, or has been, raining. The word "damp" also furthers the mingling of the human and natural realms that has been going on throughout the poem. The soil above at the gravesite has been dug up to bury the coffin. Imagine the dark, damp, freshly dug soil contrasting with the green grass of the cemetery plots surrounding it. What else comes to mind when you think about damp, freshly dug soil? Buried treasure? Okay, maybe if you're in the fifth grade. How about a garden?