Theodore Roethke Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Discuss the poem "Root Cellar" by Theodore Roethke.

Expert Answers info

Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write787 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Roethke's time in his family's greenhouse gave him many opportunities to observe nature in its most glorious beauty and in its murkiest decay. One way a reader can appreciate the power of the poem "Root Cellar" is to begin by thinking carefully about a greenhouse and its contents, as well as its purpose, and to place the function of a greenhouse in a sort of plant-life timeline, which parallels closely the timeline of human life. In a greenhouse, plants start their lives from seed, protected from the elements and nourished by hand; in contrast, a root cellar is where plants finish their existence, approaching disintegration and decay.

With this idea in mind, the reader can place the plants in "Root Cellar" at the far end of the plant-life timeline, opposite to the birth and early growth of seedlings and baby plants in a greenhouse. In a root cellar, plants have already been harvested and stored, perhaps forgotten and neglected, which explains the negative tone in words that describe the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 813 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write1,291 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History





check Approved by eNotes Editorial