Poetry Friday: Roethke in LO-O-O-O-VE

h1 February 15th, 2008 by eisha

chocwrappers.jpgHappy Day-After-Valentine’s Day! I hope you all managed to fit in a little quality time with your significant others, or at least ate a bunch of chocolate.

In keeping with the general romantic and indulgent mood, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favorite love poems, “I Knew a Woman” by Theodore Roethke. I first encountered this poem in an “Introduction to Literature” class as an undergrad, and it made quite an impression. I loved the contrast. The sing-songy rhythm of the Fletcher Spenserian stanzas (did I really just say that?) and the dashes of humor and self-mockery belie the profoundly sensual imagery (“She moved in circles, and those circles moved”) and the genuine emotion behind such statements as “I’m martyr to a motion not my own.”

Even now, fifteen years later (dude, did I really just say that?) bits of it still float unbidden to the surface of my brain at odd moments. Read the right poem at the right moment, and that’s what happens. Scarred for life.

Here’s a particularly sexy bit of it:

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Read the rest here. It goes really well with leftover Valentine candy. The serious chocolate kind. Not those chalky little word-hearts. Those are nasty.

9 comments to “Poetry Friday: Roethke in LO-O-O-O-VE”

  1. Eisha,

    I don’t know if Roethke would speak in such voluptuous verse of the models who strut the runways nowadays. Ain’t much flesh to undulate on their bones!

    I like to indulge in a good poem–as much as I enjoy savoring dark chocolate!

  2. I remember liking this poem when first reading it in college, too. Thanks for reminding me about it!

  3. Aahh. Thanks, eisha. I’m smiling. So good.

  4. Good call, Elaine. No circles moving within circles on those skinny girls.

    And thanks, Jama and Sara, for sharing the love.

  5. Oh my lord in heaven is that steamy!!!!

  6. Love the poem. Where’s my dark chocolate? As for the chalky hearts, we used them to write a Valentine’s Day poem at Thursday Poet’s Club.

  7. I put this post in Poetry Friday. Oh my…

  8. Dude, wait until “thirty years ago” rolls off your tongue for the first time. THAT will take your breath away! (And one thing I know for sure is that I plan to be taken by jsut as much surprise when it’s forty and fifty and sixty years ago. I plan to keep a part of me completely un-aged forever and ever AMEN!!!)

  9. […] Impossible Things Before Breakfast a blog about books « Poetry Friday: Roethke in LO-O-O-O-VE Nonfiction Monday: Artist Wayne Thiebaud, Painting What is Overlooked, and Cakes, Cakes, Glorious […]

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