Theodore Roethke

Comments & Themes

    • Describe, compare, and discuss the symbols of the "open-house", the "glass-house", and the "field of glass", related to the speaker's inner and outer world and how it progresses and regresses along Roethke's poetic sequences.


    • Can Ted Roethke be considered a "confessional poet"? Why?


    • Analyze the image of the "greenhouses" as a recurrent theme along Roethke's poetry. Which is the connection between the greenhouses and Roethke's father, Otto Roethke?


    • Compare Roethke's two short "Cuttings" poems (The Lost Son and Other Poems, 1948) to the opening forty-five lines of A.R. Ammons's "Corson's Inlet"(1965). How does each poem deal with the problem of observing, and writing about, a natural world that is always in transition?


    • Discuss the symbol of the "journey" in Roethke's The Far Field.


    • What did Delmore Schwartz mean with the following expression: "[...] Roehtke uses a variety of devices with the utmost cunning and craft to bring the unconsciousness to the surface of articulate expression"?


    • How may we consider Roethke's poetry to be influenced by Romanticism? Analyze Roethke's reading of "Transcendentalism" under the light of his main poetic sequences.


    • How does Roethke's confessional voice compare to Robert Lowell's very different voice or to John Berryman's also very different voice, considering that the three of them have been identified by the label of "confessional poets"?


    • Animals play a key role in Roethke's poetry. Discuss this role and compare Roethke's "bestiary" to English poet Ted Hughes own development of his "bestiary" (Hughes' Wodwo may be a good starting point).


    • Could Ted Roethke be considered an "Extremist" poet in A. Alvarez's famous definition of the works of poets such as Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath?