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(1908 - 1963 / Michigan / United States)

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Elegy For Jane

(My student, thrown by a horse)

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
And how, once started into talk, the light syllables leaped for her.
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,
A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth,
Even a father could not find her:
Scraping her cheek against straw,
Stirring the clearest water.
My sparrow, you are not here,
Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in this matter,
Neither father nor lover.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: father, horse, sad, remember, rose, elegy, happy, smile, song, light, water, sleep, wind, kiss

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Comments about this poem (Open House by Theodore Roethke )

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  • Claudia Krizay (4/25/2011 10:54:00 PM)

    i first read this poem in high school- Very heartfelt- a great write!

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Anne Bradstreet (3/21/2007 12:20:00 PM)

    True dat represent T-dog!

  • Hillary Herbert (2/28/2007 10:45:00 PM)

    Elegy for Jane is one of the most captivating and heartfelt poems I have ever read. Theodore Roethke's talent is unparalleled.

  • Michael Shepherd (4/26/2005 4:49:00 AM)

    Such a graceful tribute in its discreet emotion.

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