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Theodore Roethke

Fourth Meditation

1

I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;
Knowing the sinuousness of small waters:
As a chip or shell, floating lazily with a slow current…

Was it yesterday I stretched out the thin bones of my innocence?
O the songs we hide, singing only to ourselves!
Once I could touch my shadow, and be happy;
In the white kingdoms, I was light as a seed,
Drifting with the blossoms,
A pensive petal.

But a time comes when the vague life of the mouth no longer suffices;
The dead make more impossible demands from their silence;
The soul stands, lonely in its choice,
Waiting, itself a slow thing,
In the changing body.

The river moves, wrinkled by midges,
A light wind stirs in the pine needles.
The shape of a lark rises from a stone;
But there is no song.

Theodore Roethke, The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Doubleday, 1966)

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