by Theodore Roethke
The Waking Summary
They tell you that you should never wake a sleepwalker. The disorientation would be too extreme. And that makes a lot of sense when you read this poem. The what and where of “The Waking” take place mostly within the speaker’s own mind, as he “wakes to sleep” and contemplates his own opening awareness to who he is and what he can know. It isn’t until line 8 that you get anything from the material world: “God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there.”
And then the poem begins to actually move, as in, out in the “real” world, not just in the speaker’s mind, to look around at some of the natural organisms that surround this “going.” Not for long though. The speaker returns from his excursions outward to an inner reckoning of greater powers, his belonging, and his fate.