/ Michigan quarterly review: Vol. 6, No. 4
A Poet of Poets A GARLAND FOR THEODORE ROETHKE The following poetic tributes by friends, former students, and admirers of Theodore Roethke, many of them previously published, were sent by their authors to Mrs. John L. Shek as she began to formulate plans for the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation, and for the "Evening with Ted Roethke" that was to initiate it. The early plan was to print them as a program-brochure to commemorate the evening, and to read them as part of the program. We print them, or reprint them, now with the permission of Mrs. Shek, of their authors, and of their publishers, where appropriate, as indicated at the end of this section. CHRISTMAS EVE For Theodore Roethke Night of a scanty month, God saw the deserted park, One from the street, wandering there. And sparrows scratching the ground, Stretching their raw throats Circling, frenzy of little heads. Crumbs in a sack, That larder was shared in the last cold, Man alone, and bird. Who came with the tide Breathed his small love in the bleak city, Offered his bread, his vagabond heart. By dawn, as the light winds blow again, Starvelings shall sleep in the East, And bells ring loud over the true world. -JAMES COLE ON THE DEATH OF THEODORE ROETHKE August, 1963 Hard I must listen now For motion among stones, Watch light along bleached bones, Lean toward a brackish glow, Because I'm not all here. Death worked too long this year. Most of me says: You know, 252
Top of page Top of page