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Mailing: PO Box 943,
Sag Harbor, NY 11963


Theodore Roethke was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and teacher. Roethke’s historical significance rests both on his established place in the American canon and on his influence over a subsequent generation of award-winning poets that include Robert Bly, James Dickey, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Roethke had close literary friendships with fellow poets W. H. Auden, Louise Bogan, and William Carlos Williams. He taught at various colleges and universities, including Lafayette, Pennsylvania State, and Bennington, and worked lastly at the University of Washington, where he was mentor to a generation of Northwest poets. He was afflicted with bouts of an undiagnosed mental illness. On November 11, 1935, he suffered a breakdown. What occured during that cold night is confusing, but Roethke later described having a “mystical experience” during a walk. After returning to the Michigan State University campus, he caused a scene in the dean’s office and had to be led away to an ambulance. His book, The Waking: Poems 1933-1953 received the Pulitzer Prize in spring of 1954. His next book Words for the Wind, published in 1958, was awarded the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize. One story has Roethke teaching a class when he learns he’s won the Bollingen Prize. He reportedly announced, “I’ve just won the Bollingen. To the Moon!” .  The Blue Moon Tavern, was one of Roethke’s favorites, in Seattle’s University District. Roethke’s legacy is a diverse and lyrical body of poetry. He could be somber or playful, surrealistic or erotic or romantic, or many of these things at once. One example of this dexterity is his poem, “I Knew a Woman:

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one;
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

Description: SIGNED & DATED BY THEODORE ROETHKE on the blue front free end page “Theodore Roethke March 31, 1960”. This copy was signed at the March 31, 1960 Poetry Center reading held at the 92nd street YMCA, NYC, in association with The Kaufmann Art Gallery. Hard bound in price clipped dust jacket. Blue cloth boards with title in silver on spine edge. First Edition stated. Roethke’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poems. This copy has the Poetry center label affixed to the front fixed end page. A news clip photo of Roethke is affixed to the front free end page. and below a previous owners gift inscription “For Jack on his Birthday, January 22, 1954 – from Hilton”. List of poems read by Roethke at the Poetry Center reading is penciled in on the rear free end page. Some wear to dust jacket that shows minor sunning. Interior clean and binding tight.


Bookseller Inventory # 29186

The Waking
Roethke, Theodore


Title: The Waking
Publisher: Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York
Publication Date: 1953
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: Good
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: 1st Edition

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