In a Dark Time

Roethke, Theodore

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Jan-30-1997
  • Last revised: Jan-20-2010


This beautiful poem appears in a section called "Sequence, Sometimes Metaphysical." It is a penetrating rendering, at one and the same time, of "pure despair" and of transcendence; of the curse and simultaneous exaltation of heightened awareness; of the personal experience of "madness," "my shadow pinned against a sweating wall," "the edge is what I have," and of a more profound soul-searching that contemplates union with nature and with God: "I climb out of my fear / The mind enters itself, and God the mind, / And one is One, free in the tearing wind."


Roethke, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, suffered from manic depressive illness. This poem is remarkable in conveying a life experienced between extremes and at the edge; we might even recognize elements here that surface from time to time in ourselves. But the poet probes beyond mere personal anguish and that is, perhaps, how he survives.


First published: 1964

Primary Source

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke



Place Published

New York