In A Dark Time Poem by Theodore Roethke

In A Dark Time

Rating: 3.8

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Richard Vandervoort 10 May 2009

IN A DARK TIME is a great poem of mood and tone, of a man's encounter with 'self' or 'Self', a searching for his truer, deepest identity. 'Which I is I? ' the speaker asks. Anyone who ever experienced an 'identity crisis' may identify with this poem. Richard Lee Van Der Voort, M.A.

18 3 Reply
Dawn Fuzan 11 May 2014

Well written theo

14 4 Reply
* Sunprincess * 11 February 2016

.........excellent lines ★ A man goes far to find out what he is- Death of the self in a long, tearless night,

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Richard 10 January 2018

Nice poem, I liked the words. Buzz buzz

1 6 Reply
P. Mason 27 January 2017

I've read this over serval times...I enjoy surveying other folks darkness, I suppose because so much of my own work dwells in dark places too. With each reading I pick up one or two additional nuances to where Roethkes darkness lies...I'd like to ask if I am correct in my thinking here. But, alas, can not because Ted is dead. So it goes...

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Dr Dillip K Swain 28 August 2021

I know the purity of pure despair... great expectation

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danny 02 May 2021


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hi 02 May 2021


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bar bar 02 May 2021


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Chinedu Dike 21 October 2019

Well expressed thoughts and feelings. An insightful work of art. Thanks for sharing...................................

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Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke

Michigan / United States
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