Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sailing Until the Calm Morning

I mentioned this poem by Theodore Roethke in the comments below and just had to reproduce it here as it's probably my favorite of his. Your reading of it would really benefit from knowing some key details about Roethke's life. In short, he spent a lot of time in his father's greenhouse as a child, so much of his poetry is ripe with organic imagery. Additionally, he suffered greatly from severe manic depression for much of his life. Keep those facts in mind and this poem becomes all the more encouraging, and even deeper in its already considerable beauty.
Big Wind

Where were the greenhouses going,
Lunging into the lashing
Wind driving water
So far down the river
All the faucets stopped?-
So we drained the manure machine
For the steam plant,
Pumping the stale mixture
Into the rusty boilers,
Watching the pressure gauge
Waver over to red,
As the seams hissed
And the live steam
Drove to the far
End of the rose-house,
Where the worst wind was,
Creaking the cypress window-frames,
Cracking so much thin glass
We stayed all night,
Stuffing the holes with burlap;
She rode it out,
That old rose-house,
She hove into the teeth of it,
The core and the pith of that ugly storm,
Ploughing with her stiff prow,
Bucking into the wind-waves
That broke over the whole of her,
Flailing her sides with spray,
Flinging long strings of wet across the roof-top,
Finally veering, wearing themselves out, merely
Whistling thinly under the wind-vents;
She sailed until the calm morning,
Carrying her full cargo of roses.

- Theodore Roethke
So many of us seem to be having a rough time of it of late--people I know well, as well as throngs of people so far away whom I don't know at all. May we all hang on through the storm, sail through into the calm morning, and each take care to preserve his or her own unique and lovely cargo of roses.

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