The Waking Poem Analysis

Submitted By Jessixka
Words: 879
Pages: 4

The Waking by Theodor Roethke, is a poem that seems eerie at first glance, but has a delicate undertone of joy hidden within each stanza. He stresses the concept of waking in order to sleep, living in order to die; the journey one takes from his life towards his death. Within the poem’s boundaries of understanding, lies the significance of freedom, adventure, responsibility, fear, and sorrow. While it was the writing style and content that established these characteristics, it is these key aspects of The Waking that draw lines of comparison to Housekeeping. The tone used to achieve this eerie demeanor is reflected in Marilynne Robinson’s writing. The point of view in many ways drew parallel to Ruth’s. The strong connection with nature in The Waking corresponded entirely with the repeated focus on Ruth, Lucille, and Sylvie’s encounters with nature.

The tone in The Waking is achieved primarily through the diction and rhythm. This is comparable with Housekeeping where diction and sentence structure is manipulated for the purpose of attaining that same eerie demeanor displayed in both pieces. Using words that contrast each other so severely result in an intriguing evocation of nervous excitement. “I wake to sleep” waking existing as the polar opposite of sleeping; one can not exist without the absence of the other, therefore utilizing the words to coexist within a stanza brings a sense of mystery. The wonder mixed with such a sad undertone brings muffled fantasy and diluted curiosity to the poem. The way each stanza drags along gives meaning to the words “my waking slow,” bringing unexpected truth. This is replicated in Housekeeping through the long, drawn out sentences leaving the lingering memory of curious meaning and understanding.The diction further enhances this mystifying tone. “The lawn was knee high, an oily, dank green, and the wind sent ripples across it.” The description offered an image of a distasteful place that strangely offered beauty in its dark corners. Using words like “oily” and “dank green” as a part of the description, culminated in the reader’s uncomfortable fascination with the place related, and ultimately left the reader with a sense of the desired eeriness promoted in both writings.

The point of view, thought process, and morality of the speaker in The Waking resembles Robinson’s character Ruth in Housekeeping. Both share a certain take on life and go through it pursuing freedom that might not be truly desired.It is my understanding that “learn by going where to go” envisions destiny. Stating that perhaps destiny is the fundamental dispute to freedom. Denying even those who search for it a real chance. If fate and destiny determined what path one will take than the concept of the speakers freedom is flawed. It is similar in housekeeping that the very freedom Ruth cons herself in to craving is the thing that cages her. She follows Sylvie. She never chooses anything herself. Denying herself any freedom. Even though to outsiders she might appear to have unquestionable independence, It is only her capacity in her judgement, and her freedom of thought that roams unshackled. That is her soul freedom. The intense assessments of her situation and these life questions is what creates the similarity between The Waking and Housekeeping.

A major theme in both the poem and the book is nature and its significance. The Waking manages to use