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The Waking

The Waking

by Theodore Roethke

Analysis: Calling Card

An Anthem to Awareness

Ask any five poets—that is if you can gather five poets at one time—and one of them will say “The Waking” is their favorite poem. What is it about this shifting, paradoxical, ambiguous song of a poem that has captivated so many poets and dreamers? This exploration of the states of waking and dreaming, hearing and feeling, thinking and knowing celebrates the more sensitive creatures among us. Add to that mix some musing on the nature of fate, God, nature, and death, and cram it into 19 musical lines and you can take away a real anthem to the complexity of existence. Hungry for more of this kind of thing? Check out Roethke’s “Long Live the Weeds,” “Florist’s Root Cellar,” or “Second Shadow.”

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