Analysis Of The Waking By Theodore Roethke

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A Walk Through Roethke’s Work “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke is very diverse. Instead of the poem referring to someone waking from sleeping, it refers to someone waking from several realizations about life. The poem is written in first person, therefore, the author is also the speaker. The setting of the poem could take place within a person’s figurative heart or mind. Roethke’s purpose was to show how we become more open-minded through the practice of metaphorically sleeping and waking. Roethke focuses on the life cycle itself, and how we come to a more aware and sophisticated state as we progress through life. This poem contains many figures of speech, including; paradox, assonance, internal rhyme, rhetorical questions, and refrains. He …show more content…
Overall, the speaker is constantly waking from sleep, but with each realization he becomes more aware of his surroundings. Using different figures of speech throughout his poem helps the author convey his message of realization on the length of life. In Roethke’s first and second stanza, he uses many different figures of speech as well as different ways to convey meaning and feeling. This particular poem is called a villanelle because of its rhyme pattern. The first line starts with, “I wake to sleep…”, the second, “I feel my fate…”, and the third, “I learn by going…” There is an anaphora because of the distinct column of “I’s” lined up. Each have their own verb following, and they convey a kind of consciousness. Lines one and three in this particular stanza are refrains because they are being repeated over and over again. Line one says, “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow,.”, and line three says “I learn by going where I have to go.” Each time these lines reappear, they look and mean something slightly different. Also, “slow” and “go” rhyme at the end of these lines. Line one is also a paradox, which is a statement that contradicts itself. The author’s second stanza builds off of the first as he continues to speak of …show more content…
The author writes, “Great Nature has another thing to do/ To you and me;…” This sentence continues but switches to a new sentence half way through it. Also notice, both Great and Nature are capitalized as Roethke seems to do quite often. He has used many verbs including the following; wake, take, feel, learn, think, and hear. These verbs help out to describe what Roethke means, but he used them in a way that makes you think about them to understand what he means. He used take in this case, “…so take the lively air.” In this usage, take is looked at as breathe. Following the patterns of this poem, the author continues to recite refrain three. The author is coming to a conclusion beginning with, “This shaking keeps me steady.” This phrase is another one of Roethke’s paradoxes. Then he finishes off with both refrains, as a villanelle always does. These two lines are lined up almost as a couplet, it gives the reader a feeling of completion. In the poem, Roethke wakes each morning and realizes he is one step closer to death. Essentially, no one knows where life with lead them, and you will have to take and accept things as they come. Since Roethke is aware of the fact that life will lead him down a certain path, he accepts this reality and chooses to live each day as it

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