Theodore Roethke, an American poet —

It’s a fragmented memory. I tend to find my own memories much like some of the bleak, desert–inspired Dali image. My own memories are strange and apparently barren landscapes marked by surrealist pictures that don’t always fit.

It’s a Retrograde Mercury–inspired influence.

For example, my very specific, somewhat haunted Roethke memory. It was a certain “Literature” professor at the University, and he had a TA drag in some kind of dated, even then, dated analog sound reproduction device. I’m thinking it was a pre–boombox stereo of some sort, on the University’s — English Department — AV cart.

The class was working through post—WW2 American Poets, best guess. That’s one textbook I bemoan no longer having.

While I’m unsure of exactly which poem was anthologized, that AV cart, the recording we listened to?

Roethke reading his poem, included the line, “lovely in her bones,” and that poetry was packed with super-psycho-sexual energy. His voice carried, and his deep, stentorian tone added deep gravity to the reading. Absolutely brilliant.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard recordings. Notes about other, similar vintage poets.

I am unsure is this area is strictly the provenance of students of the language arts, alone.

What I found, after digging this time, I was using a remembered quote from that poem, something about, “when she sighed, little birds sighed back at her,” as it fit this one girlfriend ever so well. The punctuation for that line, though, the way I was recalling it? “I, poor I, the rake —” with a rejoinder, “but what prodigious mowing we did make.”


It was Roethke’s single line or two, and my completely inept delivery that caused this search. Best I could find was an audio file delivered on YouTube, and that’s not what I was looking for, as I wanted something more portable.

So far, that’s lost. It is leftover on an AV cart with some kind of funky, hipster–retro sound system that is totally not ironic because it was departmental issue. The original format is unknown. Floating free in the cosmic collective, though, there is an audio file of the great Theodore Roethke reading “Lovely in Her Bones,” or whatever it was.

“I, poor I, the rake…”

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke – Theodore Roethke

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke


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