The Lost Son and Other Poems by Theodore Roethke
New York : Doubleday & Co., 1948. First Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 64 pages ; 23 cm. $2.50 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
The Lost Son and Other Poems
THEODORE ROETHKE is a poet who has succeeded in utilizing the things of nature and dramatizing them in terms of his own highly intensified personal experience. There is no leaning on myth or illusion; everything comes from within the poem, his agonies, his doubts, and his resolution, and these he expresses in a language and movement that is at once traditional, yet fresh; simple, yet varied in range and effect.
With his first volume of verse, Open House, Mr. Roethke was immediately recognized as a poet of originality and distinction by such leading critics as Auden, Winters, and Bogan. Now, with this book, in a series of shorter poems, he has created a drama of growth, faithfully presenting the objective world of a childhood in Michigan. In his sequence of long poems, each poem represents a stage in a spiritual development: a psychic progress through terror and doubt to a point where the lost spirit is finally reclaimed. Here a primitive imagination is at work in rapid shifts of association, in vivid imagery, and in powerfully evocative rhythms.
BORN in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1908, Theodore Roethke was educated at the University of Michigan and at Harvard. He has taught at Lafayette College, Penn State, Bennington, and is at present associate professor of English at Washington. His other fields of activity have been diversified: he has worked in a pickle factory, been a college tennis coach, and served as a public-relations counselor. He was known by his Bennington students as "the best teacher we ever had" (according to an article in Junior Bazaar), and William Carlos Williams has called him "as good a steak cook as Brancusi."
In 1945, Mr. Roethke won a Guggenheim fellowship for creative writing, and of his first book, Open House, it was said:
"Mr. Roethke is instantly recognizable as a good poet . . . Many people have the experience of feeling physically soiled and humiliated by life; some quickly put it out of their mind, others gloat narcissistically on its unimportant details; but both to remember and to transform the humiliations into something beautiful, as Mr. Roethke does, is rare. Every one of the lyrics in this book, whether serious or light, shares the same kind of ordered sensibility: Open House is completely successful."—W. H. Auden, The Saturday Review of Literature.
"The first book of a young poet with a real sense of lyric style, a fine, bitter wit, and a feeling for the small and medium-sized as well as for the large doings of the world about him."—Louise Bogan, The New Yorker.
Roethke is ashamed neither of having subject matter nor of the kind of subject matter he has, and he writes in a style that is good in this period and would be good in any other."—Yvor Winters, Kenyon Review.
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