Friday, September 12, 2014

Theodore Roethke Elegy

I chose this poem because of Roethke's no-nonsense tribute to Aunt Tilly. His poem clearly conveys the admiration and respect people felt toward her by the amount of flowers at her funeral, "and enough flowers for an alderman," (Roethke, pg 2711).  The amount of flowers indicates that many people cared about Aunt Tilly.  He portrays her as a very good person who is disciplined and selfless.  He says in line 5, "Between the spirit and the flesh, -what war? She never knew;"  Which I took to mean a reference to Matthew 26:41, "...the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." She does not seem to deal with the battle of wanting to do good and actually doing it. She just does good.  She sits with the dead, feeds the poor,  cares for the sick and insane, and accepts her impeding death with a "hash rasp of a laugh,". She saves the best peaches for pickling to give away to the poor and keeps the misshapen for herself.  He also states,"And yet she died in agony," ( Roethke, pg 2712)  Perhaps, suggesting because she was so good of a person she should not have had to suffer at the end of her life.  The end of the poem is a very nice way of seeing Aunt Tilly.  She is in heaven doing her shopping.  She is serenely picking out produce yet, "Bearing down, with two steady eyes, On the quaking butcher." (Roethke, pg 2712)  Is Roethke suggesting that because we do good here on earth that maybe God should take our suffering from us? Or maybe Aunt Tilly was "saintly" because she accepted all that was given to her without complaint?

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