selections from Roethke’s I Teach Out of Love

25 Jul

One teaches out of love: it’s an impertinence, an imposition, in the end it’s terrifying.

The nobility of the imagination is my theme: I have to let things shimmer.

I teach nothing but the obvious. But that’s nearly always forgotten.

I’ll teach you all I’ve forgotten.

Your words are you. You are them and not much more. The Description: the fieldness of fields, the weediness of weeds … When is description mere? Never. A freshness in the seeing, an innocence in the vision, the angle of perception, the bringing together of details, not necessarily as metaphors, even, just as objects. Be one of those on whom, as Lawrence said, nothing is lost. Don’t strain for arrangement. Look and put it down and let your sensibility be the sieve.

It is well to keep in touch with chaos.

A poet’s rhythmical energy is, I should say, the index to his psychic energy …

There is much to be learned and wrung from terror, anxiety, fear: there are still “forms” which the imagination can seize from these dark seas of the mind and spirit.

A poetry of longing: not for escape, but for a greater reality.

What we forget is the effect we have on the young: that we are their lives in a way that is no longer quite realizable to us.

I’m crying for what I can never do.

That intense desire to go back and teach them more, to stay with their lives, …

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