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The Waking

The Waking


by Theodore Roethke

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

What begins in the mind of our sleeping-waking-musing speaker ventures out in line 8, “God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there.” From there, we get some external observations along with the blow-by-blow descriptions of the shifting interior landscape.

From the abstract path of fate, “I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. / I learn by going where I have to go,” (2-3) we enter either an actual wood or the forest of a dreamed or imagined state. There we see a tree taken by light, a lowly worm climbing a winding stair. Are these real, tangible things or are they objects inhabiting the space of “being” dancing “ear to ear”? It’s hard to tell. This poem seems to exist mostly in the shifting, spiraling ascent through various states of awareness and consciousness.

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