In a Dark Time

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Woodward 1 “In a Dark Time”
In times of darkness, people look to find light. Comfort is found in light because darkness is unknown. In Theodore Roethke’s “ In a Dark Time”, the reader is taken through a journey of one man’s internal struggle to find unity within himself. In a time of darkness the man contemplates the reality of light. His conflicting mental state is paralleled by the images of a dark forest, and through this quarrel he comes to the revelation that he must face his darkest hour in order to achieve this unity. Roethke himself went through a mental struggle, giving the reader a better sense of the speaker’s voice. With Its somber tone, vivid imagery, and crucial metaphors Roethke forms a poem with endless literary elements; gracefully choosing his word order to depict this mental progression while maintaining its theme. Roethke’s past and mental struggles throughout his life suggest that in this poem, the man’s internal conflict, reflects upon his own; therefore setting up its readers to determine the voice of our speaker. Unlike most poems were the speaker is merely a persona (Kirszner and
Woodward 2
Mandell 679). In A biography of Roethke by the poetry foundation Allan Seager expresses the intensity of Roethke’s progression to mental illness, “ There was no great mystery about his going to the hospital- he had nearly ruined himself in a mad attempt to go without sleep... was his own stupidity in trying to live a pure and industrious life all of a sudden.” His passion in his work nearly led him to madness, losing himself in what he thought was the light. This sophisticated yet somber tone of the poem parallels his life in that way. Giving the reader a better understanding of his internal experience. By the first line there is already a sense of internal contradiction being unraveled, “ In a dark time, the eye begins to see” (Roethke 1). Immediately struck with an intense statement this dramatic monologue draws the



Cited: Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. Reading, Reacting, Writing. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print. Pushkin, Alexander. Collected Narrative and lyrical Poetry. Walter Arndt. Woodstock and New York: Ardis Publishers, 2002. Print. "Literature Annotations." Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. New York University, 1993-2014. Web. <Litmed.med.nyu.edu>. "In a Dark Time Analysis." Elite Skills Classics. n.p., 2009-2013. Web.<http://www.eliteskills.com/analysis_poetry/In_A_Dark_Time_by_Theodore_Roethke_analysis.php>. "In a Dark Time: type of poem lyric." Tripod. n.p., 2009-2013. Web.<http://studies.tripod.com/ENGL2328/in_a_dark_time.htm>. "In a Dark Time." Paper Masters. n.p., n.d. Web.  <https://www.papermasters.com/in-a-dark- time.html>.

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