The Storm, Theodore Roethke

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The descriptive poem written by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke, deals with an aggressive storm and all its effects on the environment: the surrounding nature and the people experiencing it. The storm is described in a disorganized manner to highlight the big chaos the storm causes. Nature is precisely illustrated, because it reacts on the storm and thus is an important factor for the description of the storm. The people simply give an extra dimension to the poem, and the theme of men versus nature in the form of a storm.

As the title tells us, the poem is about a huge raging and destroying storm, going through a little town, ‘up Santa Lucia'. The poet has chosen for an enormous unusual vocabulary of verbs to describe the storm: ‘whines', ‘whistling', ‘rattling', ‘flapping' and so on, although these words are not often used to describe events such as this hurricane. ‘Whistling' for example has a rather soft connotation, however it is used to emphasize the rough storm, even though it has a noisy undertone and this is the case with the entire list of verbs used in by the poet. It is not only the title and the employed vocabulary that illustrate the storm in such an overwhelming and remarkable way; there is also the absence of any visible structure. The poem does not seem to contain any obvious rhyme scheme and definitely no direct rhyme. Stanzas appear to be absent and some lines are very short ‘We wait, we listen.', other lines are really long ‘Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upwards into the darkness.' Enjambment occurs several times: ‘Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over / The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating / The walls, the slatted windows, driving / …', just as end-stopped lines ‘Water roars in the cistern.' The punctuation in the poem encloses no order either, there is commas and semi-colons, a question mark ‘Where have the people gone?', an exclamation mark ‘A time to go home!' and a...
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