Archives for posts with tag: Michigan poet

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NIGHT JOURNEY
by Theodore Roethke

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) is widely regarded as among the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation. Roethke’s work is characterized by its introspection, rhythm and natural imagery. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book, The Waking, and he won the annual National Book Award for Poetry twice, in 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field. In the November 1968 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, former U.S. Poet Laurete and author James Dickey wrote Roethke was: “…in my opinion the greatest poet this country has yet produced.” In 2012, he was featured on a United States postage stamp as one of ten great 20th Century American poets. (Source: Wikipedia.org.)

Photo: Graphic based on “Sunset from a Moving Train” by Kirsten M. Lentoff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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NIGHT JOURNEY

Poem by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

Photo: “Sunset from a Moving Train” by Kirsten M. Lentoff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED