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The Dream

The following poem is by Theodore Roethke.
The Waking
Aug2013 031

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close behind me, which are you?

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,

And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lonely worm climbs up a winding stair;

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do

To you and me; so take the lively air;

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go.

AugD2013 065

Theodore Roethke.

22 Comments Post a comment
  1. What utterly beautiful photos to accompany Roethke’s words. “I learn by going where I have to go…” Those are some of the best words, ever.

    And they remind me of Flannery O’Connors words about writing – which is, after all, just another way of “going”. She says, “I write so that I can learn what I think.” Oh, yes.

    What a lovely, peaceful post for bedtime. Thank you!

    August 12, 2013
    • I’ve always been interested in photos working together to express a feeling. The last week has been a sleepy one because I was ill and as I slowed down I became very focused on light and started taking pictures of it, then I fell to reflection…looking back it seemed to be a kind of dream. I came across the poem when I was looking for one about light, and all the things it does. As with all these searches it’s easy to get side tracked! I don’t know, this poem seemed to sum it all up and work with the pictures. So glad you appreciated the result!

      I also like…’What falls away is always. And is near.’

      I’d like to read some more Flannery O’Connor…haha if I ever get through Prairie Erth…which I’m enjoying but I don’t seem to have a lot of time for reading and it’s rather large 🙂

      August 13, 2013
  2. love all the photos 🙂

    August 12, 2013
  3. I love the poem and the photos although I could not view all of them in the gallery because it was loading too slowly tonight. Bad night for my connection.

    August 12, 2013
    • It’s so annoying when it does that! We’ve got so used to everything happening so quickly now…you should see me have a mini meltdown 🙂

      What did you think about the images working together? I wanted them to bounce off each other to express a sensation. A bit like the one in the poem.

      August 13, 2013
      • I think the images do precisely that. Emotion, sensation is the way we “think by feeling”, and you’ve accomplished that here.

        August 14, 2013
      • the first photo seems to be you looking up at the sky and just as that cloud moves away from the sun, thinking of the opening lines to a poem – about light

        August 28, 2013
  4. Charlotte #

    Such an amazing complex poem – gorgeous word play, sadness and stillness and joy. I like ‘ I wake to sleep and take my waking slow..’

    August 12, 2013
    • It is isn’t it? I read it quickly first of all and just let the words wash over me. It felt a bit like the fuzziness of the last week. Then I looked closer and read it again. And again. 🙂

      August 14, 2013
  5. I like the poem, although it definitely takes more than one reading. And it helped googling some background on Roethke, who I initially thought was Rilke and that it was a translation from german. But the line ‘I learn by going where I have to go’ is one to take with you where ever you go. The light through the small window and the mysterious shadows are my favourite photos.

    August 13, 2013
    • I think I’ve read it about 20 times now! I can see why you might have thought it was Rilke. I’d never heard of him and was just googling poems about light (better write one, there didn’t seem to be many 😉 ) and this appeared in one of my nature searches. I love the dreamy rhythm of the words, and they seemed to suit my post illness mood and reflecting on death…and the nature of life.

      The mysterious shadows are caused by the ivy at that window. I wanted them all to work together. Finding the poem made it easier to select from the zillions I took over the last week while traipsing limply around coughing.

      August 14, 2013
    • A poem about light is bubbling…and why not take that as my starting point? Thanks!

      September 4, 2013
  6. A beautiful poem, thank you for posting, I’m not familiar with it. You have illustrated the words with some lovely images. I particularly like the first 🙂

    August 17, 2013
    • Thanks Debbie. It’s funny the images came first and I wasn’t in a writing mood so I wanted to find words to work with the images – it seemed to work. I’ll be back over again to yours soon – looking forward to catching up.

      September 4, 2013
  7. Thanks for sharing this.

    God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
    And learn by going where I have to go.


    August 29, 2013
    • Hi Bill, of course that would be the line which really moves you. Not being a believer, I find that one the most confusing! It didn’t strike me as a religious poem particularly. But that’s what’s great about creative work…open to interpretation. Glad you liked it 🙂

      September 4, 2013
  8. We should all wake to sleep and take our waking slow…let the day prepare us for come what may. Beautiful in total ma’am 🙂

    September 5, 2013
    • Hey Fran. I’ve been that busy since I posted this…but I’ll be back soon. To catch up over at yours and to blog again 😉

      September 5, 2013
      • Forgedaboudit! I have been flat strap here and have only just picked up my RSS Feed Reader. There were just on 1000 posts to wade through as I have been AWOL for over a month now. So much has happened while I was gone! You would think that the blogging world would have the courtesy to stop still while I was away wouldn’t you? ;). Hugs from Tassie. Bet your autumn leaves are starting to come on. Would love to see a picture in a future post 🙂

        September 5, 2013
  9. Roethke reminds me of Roethke. Do you know this one (whose last line is yet another that begins with I)?

    September 19, 2013
    • Thanks Steve, I have just been on a poetry course so I am now in a better position to appreciate it!

      October 7, 2013

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