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The Waking

The Waking

by Theodore Roethke

Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. (2)

You’d think that you would fear fate because you’re powerless against it, but not the speaker of this poem. It’s hard to say which came first—the fate or the fear—but the speaker insists that he feels his fate in those things he cannot fear. Maybe there’s no point in fearing something that’s going to happen anyway? Maybe there’s a faith and comfort in what will happen, as people are soothed by feeling they are in God’s hands.

Quote #2

I learn by going where I have to go (3)

Fate’s M.O. is to define a person’s path, right? And the speaker goes along with that whole idea, following the course set out before him. The obligation do to what is already outlined might feel restrictive or claustrophobic, but this speaker seems happy enough. Not only that, he’s learning as he goes along.

Quote #3

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there (8)

With the appearance of God (and the earth) comes the first true sign of free will or agency from our speaker. Sure, before this he woke, learned, thought, felt, but before when he went, it was where he had to go. Now with “shall,” we get the first whiff of decision and autonomy. Does this have anything to do with God and/or earth’s influence?

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