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The Waking

The Waking


by Theodore Roethke

The Waking Theme of Awe and Amazement

As speakers go, the one in “The Waking” is pretty amazed. We sort of imagine him stumbling all over the natural world, bug-eyed and giddy about all the dirt, trees, worms, and light he observes. This feeling of awe—about nature, life, and our experience on this planet—is really central to what the speaker is trying to convey to us, too. He may take his waking slow, but now that his eyes are open, he’s trying to get us to see the world as the amazing creation that he sees it to be. The world around us is an eye-opening treat—even better than coffee!

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. Is fear a feature of awe? How would the speaker reply?
  2. Can anyone ever really know something, or are the most important things beyond us? What do you think the speaker would say to that?
  3. For whom and for what does the speaker express awe? What’s so amazing about these things?
  4. Can you come up with any solid answers to the questions the speaker asks in this poem? If so, which ones? How did you come up with them?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Questions are the tools of humble adventurers into the world of ideas. Forward, ho!

The more you learn, the less awe you feel. Sad, right?

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