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The central motif in Theodore Roethke's "The Waking" appears at first to revolve around specific images associated with sleeping and waking, as if the poet was in a dream state when composing the lines. The paper shows, however, that when taking a closer look, "The Waking" is a cryptic message that relays to the reader how the poet felt and what he was thinking when attending a wake, or a ceremony held over the body of a dead person prior to burial.
From the Paper:"Through the application of connotative language, or that which implies or suggests a particular meaning, "The Waking" takes the reader on a paradoxical journey into and about the mind of the poet as he stands near the open casket of a deceased friend in a funeral parlor. The first key line, "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow," in the first tercet contains a dual meaning, i.e. as the poet "wakes" he is also thinking about sleeping himself after the wake, yet he is also inferring that he too will someday sleep like his deceased friend; perhaps it would have been better for the poet to have said "I wait to sleep." The other part of this line, "and take my waking slow," means that the poet does not wish for his "wake" to end quickly, due to being melancholy over the death of his friend or loved one."
Cite this Poem Review:
"The Waking" (2003, June 29) Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/poem-review/the-waking-28484/
""The Waking"" 29 June 2003. Web. 18 April. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/poem-review/the-waking-28484/>