Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
“The Far Field” is the fifth poem in “North American Sequence,” which contains six long poems in all and opens Theodore Roethke’s last book, The Far Field (1964). Therefore, although “The Far Field” is a distinct poem, it must be viewed in the larger poetic context to appreciate its significance. The six poems of this sequence are written in free verse. Roethke expands and contracts the lengths of the lines as though on a journey that requires quick turns, frequent pauses, and long and short strides. The central theme of the work—the individual’s quest for spiritual fulfillment—is reflected in the poem’s rhythms and structures. The lines lengthen to coincide with the poet’s desire to flow like water and to move with a flurry of leaves. The natural world the poet explores and whose center he seeks is portrayed in catalogs of images that depict experiences whose “deep center” becomes his ultimate goal. The poet journeys in search of a self that is at one with the natural world.
In “The Longing,” the first poem in the sequence, the poet finds himself in a world that paralyzes the soul and reduces the individual to a creature who stares through empty eyes. This world fills the poet’s soul with disgust, even despair. He longs to escape it at the same time that aspects of nature offer him a felicity that sets his soul in motion. The first of his revelations comes to him: “The rose exceeds, the rose exceeds us all.”...
(The entire section is 1604 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Far Field Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!