Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke owed much to the mystics of the Anglo-Celtic tradition such as Blake, Yeats, and Auden. Roethke in turn exerted a significant influence on artists of the 1940's and 1950's generations. Not only did a poet like Sylvia Plath find inspiration in Roethke's work, but a number of American composers, among them Samuel Barber and Ned Rorem, found the lyricism of his verse excellent material for song settings.

Photo: Academy of American Poets

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About

Born on May 25, 1908 in Michigan and educated there, Roethke went on to Harvard before pursuing an academic career at various American universities. His first volume of verse, Open House (1941), initiated his hallmark use of plant imagery as a symbol for human flowering and decay. He followed this with autobiographical verse in The Lost Son, and Other Poems (1948) and Praise to the End! (1951), which showed him embracing the visionary style of Yeats. “The Waking” won the poet the Pulitzer Prize in 1954, while the Bollingen Prize-winning Words for the Wind is probably his best known work. After Roethke’s death in 1963 the remainder of his verse, letters, and essays were published posthumously, and a Collected Edition of the poems appeared in 1975.

–Thomas Hampson and Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, PBS I Hear America Singing

Related Information

Books

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

By Theodore Roethke

Songs

Despite and Still, Op. 41

Song Collection

Samuel Barber

Robert Graves

Theodore Roethke

James Joyce

Evidence of Things Not Seen

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

W. H. Auden

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Robert Browning

Stephen Crane

Mark Doty

Robert Frost

Paul Goodman

A. E. Housman

Langston Hughes

Jane Kenyon

Rudyard Kipling

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Paul Monette

William Penn

Theodore Roethke

Walt Whitman

John Woolman

William Butler Yeats

First Meditation

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

From Whence Cometh Song

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Evidence of Things Not Seen

Give Way, Ye Gates

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

I Knew a Woman

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

I Strolled Across an Open Field

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Two Poems of Theodore Roethke

My Lizard (Wish For a Young Love) (op. 41, no. 2)

Samuel Barber

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Despite and Still, Op. 41

Open House

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Open House

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

Orchids

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Two Poems of Theodore Roethke

Poems of Love and Rain

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

W. H. Auden

E. E. Cummings

Emily Dickinson

Howard Moss

Jack Larson

Kenneth Pitchford

Theodore Roethke

Donald Windham

Snake

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Song

Simon Sargon

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Intimations of Mortality

The Apparition

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Poems of Love and Rain

The Nantucket Songs

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Christina Rossetti

William Carlos Williams

The Right Thing

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

The Serpent

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

The Waking

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

Two Poems of Theodore Roethke

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

Theodore Roethke

Sheet Music

14 Songs on American Poetry

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Song(s): As Adam Early in the Morning (Walt Whitman)
Early in the Morning (Robert Hillyer)
I am Rose (Gertrude Stein)
Memory (Theodore Roethke)
My Papa's Waltz (Theodore Roethke)
Night Crow (Theodore Roethke)
O You Whom I Often and Silently Come (Walt Whitman)
Root Cellar (Theodore Roethke)
Sally's Smile (Paul Goodman)
See How They Love Me (Howard Moss)
Snake (Theodore Roethke)
Such Beauty As Hurts to Behold (Paul Goodman)
The Waking (Theodore Roethke)
Youth, Day, Old Age, and Night (Walt Whitman)

Buy via Edition Peters

Evidence of Things Not Seen

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

Samuel Barber: Collected Songs

Composer(s): Samuel Barber

Song(s): 1. A Last Song (op. 41, no. 1)
2. My Lizard (Wish For a Young Love) (op. 41, no. 2)
3. In The Wilderness (op. 41, no. 3)
4. Solitary Hotel (op. 41, no. 4)
5. Despite and Still (op. 41, no. 5)

Buy via Sheet Music Plus

Open House

Composer(s): William Bolcom

Song(s): 1. Open House
2. Give Way, Ye Gates
3. The Waking
4. The Serpent
5. I Knew a Woman
6. First Meditation
7. The Right Thing

Buy via Sheet Music Plus

Poems of Love and Rain

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Voice Type: Medium

Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

The Nantucket Songs

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Voice Type: High

Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

Two Poems of Theodore Roethke

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Song(s): 1. Orchids
2. I Strolled Across an Open Field

Buy via Sheet Music Plus

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