In a dark time

Theodore Roethke 1908 (Michigan) – 1963 (Washington)



In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;   
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,   
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!   
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.   
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,   
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,   
And in broad day the midnight come again!   
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,   
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.   
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,   
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.   
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,   
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.
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Submitted by Emerald.wyder on March 25, 2022

Modified on April 25, 2023

1:04 min read
43

Quick analysis:

Scheme AXXABB XCXXXX AXBXDD CEEXFF
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,024
Words 214
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6

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