Theodore Roethke’s “The Geranium”

Bloedel Reserve Zen Garden on Bainbridge Island where Theodore Roethke drowned in 1963
Bloedel Reserve Zen Garden on Bainbridge Island where Theodore Roethke drowned in 1963

Theodore Roethke was born in 1908 in Saginaw, Michigan, to German immigrant parents. Roethke’s father, Otto, owned and operated 25 acres of commercial greenhouses, and many of Roethke’s poems, early and late, view nature and the world, shaped by that early lens, as both wondrous and cruel. Roethke received the Pulitzer Prize, The National Book Award, and the Bollingen Prize for his poems during his lifetime, though he started writing poetry at a late age. He taught at the University of Washington in Seattle until his sudden death while swimming in 1963. His collection, The Far Field, published posthumously in 1965, received a second National Book Award.

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