Theodore Roethke, “A Light Breather”


The spirit moves,
Yet stays:
Stirs as a blossom stirs,
Still wet from its bud-sheath,
Slowly unfolding,
Turning in the light with its tendrils;
Plays as a minnow plays,
Tethered to a limp weed, swinging,
Tail around, nosing in and out of the current,
Its shadows loose, a water finger;
Moves, like the snail,
Still inward,
Taking and embracing its surroundings,
Never wishing itself away,
Unafraid of what it is,
A music in a hood,
A small thing,

Lunar Eclipse of the Heart
Theodore Roethke, “Words for the Wind (pt. 2)”
  • “A water finger….” What an image! Relating to a minnow. Roethke has such amazing associations in language.
    And he’s driven by a spiritual vision, a rare thing: “Everything that lives is holy: I call upon these holy forms of life. One could even put this theologically: St. Thomas says, ‘God is above all things by the excellence of His nature; nevertheless, He is in all things as causing the being of all things.'” (from On the Poet and His Craft. U. of Washington Press.)
    See also Rumi’s poetry – especially in The Soul of Rumi where he talks about HU, a sound for contemplation and listening to God, achieving what TR calls “a heightened consciousness.”
    Check out my journal, – for insights on myth, poetry and spirit.

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