A remarkable spirit, poet Theodore Huebner Roethke (1908–1963) was born on this day in Saginaw, Michigan. As a child he explored his father's greenhouse and celebrate the magic of nature and the introspective heart.
He once wrote, "Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light."
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book awards, his acclaimed first book, Open House (1941), took ten years to write. His introspective poetry celebrated imagery and honesty with a style that echoed the passion of Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, and William Butler Yeats
"Time marks us while we are marking time," he observed. His second volume of poetry, The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948), drew even more critical attention and success.
The respected poet won the Pulitzer in 1954 for The Waking, in which he wrote: "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go."
A teacher and Guggenheim fellow, Roethke struggled for balance with his turbulent relationships, alcoholism, and mental health. He relied on nature to show the way. His short lyrical works, tender glimpses of life's precious moments, inspired many poets, including Richard Hugo and Sylvia Plath.
"In a dark time, the eye begins to see," he said.
More POETRY Quotations
Believe in the incredible power of the spirit.