"Elegy for Jane" certainly addresses Love, but it isn't quite what we might expect. We tend to put this big, complex emotion into three main categories: familial (the love felt between family members), romantic (often including a physical component—yes, we mean sex), and friendship (the love you might feel for a very close friend). So, which category does our speaker's love for Jane belong? Seems kind of tough to squeeze it into any these neat little boxes, which is precisely the problem Roethke wants us to consider.
The speaker doesn't love Jane, he's just a tree-hugger, hung up on nature.
It is impossible to categorize, govern, or explain an emotion as powerful as love. As Emily Dickinson said, "The heart wants what it wants-or else it does not care."
In "Elegy for Jane," happiness is a delicate, but highly contagious state—kind of like mono. It is something that, once achieved, can disappear suddenly and completely. Roethke's memories of Jane happy are juxtaposed with his memory of her in sadness. It is almost as if the knowledge of that fleeting, delicate happiness is partly responsible for the "pure depth" of her sadness.
Jane's happiness is fleeting because Roethke wants her to represent the natural world and suffering is our natural state. Good times.
Sadness is no match for happiness. In "Elegy for Jane," even shade and mold (not happy guys) started singing a happy tune when they encountered the happy wren. In the presence of true happiness, sadness disappears.
We hate to be a Debbie Downer, but unfortunately sadness seems to be a much more persistent emotion than happiness. In "Elegy for Jane," once sadness shows up it seems to be just about unshakable. We expect an elegy to be sad, but traditionally they end with the speaker finding some kind of consolation. No such luck in "Elegy or Jane." In fact, by remembering Jane being happy in the first stanza, the gloom of sadness that shows up in the second stanza seems even darker.
Jane should stop waiting around for her daddy to save her and cheer herself up. All she needs to do is change her perspective. Change your perspective and you can change your mood.
"Elegy for Jane" proves that Roethke believes sadness is a more powerful emotion than happiness. Crying for the win.
Roethke uses nature imagery to convey the grief and sense of loss in "Elegy for Jane." But he also uses nature imagery to show Jane's happiness. Roethke found answers and solace in the natural world. For him, nearly every aspect of life could be explained and demonstrated by carefully considering the natural world and our relationship with it.
Roethke believes that the only way to truly understand the human mind and human nature is to understand nature itself. Deep, dude.
Roethke needs to give it a rest with the twigs, branches, and mold. There is more to the world than nature.
"Elegy for Jane" is, well, an elegy, so death is going to come up. Much of the poem is spent remembering Jane as she was in life. But the core of the poem deals with the speaker's feelings about the death of a young, vibrant woman, Jane, and his inability to reconcile his feelings for her with societal expectations.
Nice try, Ted. "Elegy for Jane" is less about mourning Jane's death than it is about Roethke's fear of death.
Roethke tries to get over Jane's death by connecting her to all the living things he is surrounded with. It doesn't work.