Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Theodore Roethke (RET-kee) (May 25, 1908 – August 1, 1963) was a United States poet, who published several volumes of poetry. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book The Waking. He is a seminal influence for many poets, especially poets of the Pacific Northwestern region of the United States.
Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan. His father, Otto Roethke was an immigrant from Germany who owned a local greenhouse. Much of Theodore's childhood was spent in this greenhouse, which resulted in his use of natural imagery in his poetry. He attended the University of Michigan and Harvard University and became a professor of English. He taught at several universities, among them Lafayette College, Pennsylvania State University, and Bennington College. He taught last at the University of Washington, leading to an association with the poets of the American Northwest. In 1935, while teaching at Michigan State College in Lansing, he began to suffer from depression, which he used as a creative impetus for his poetry.
In 1953 Roethke married Beatrice O'Connell . He had not told her of his manic depression, but she remained dedicated to Roethke and his work. She ensured the posthumous publication of his final volume of poetry, The Far Field .
Theodore Roethke suffered a heart attack in a swimming pool 1963 and died in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The pool was later filled in and is now a moss garden, which can be viewed by the public at the Bloedel Reserve, a 150 acre (607,000 m²) former private estate. There is no sign to indicate that the moss garden was the site of Roethke's death.
- Open House (1941)
- The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948)
- Praise to the End! (1951)
- The Waking (1953)
- Words for the Wind (1958)
- I am! Says the Lamb (1961)
- The Far Field (published posthumously, 1964)
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