Monday, December 15, 2008

Language #1: The Geranium by Theodore Roethke

The Geranium

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)
The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.
Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.

After reading My Papa's Waltz in the Norton I really liked Roethke's style of poetry and researched some more of his work and found The Geranium. The situation of this poem isn't clear in the beginning, its very ambiguous. The first line, "When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail, She looked so limp and bedraggles, so foolish and trusting." This description doesn't immediately point to the subject being a simple potted flower. The way Roethke describes the Geranium makes it take on a human persona, the reader feels the speakers feelings for the plant. Althought the speaker points out his mistreatment of the plant, "The things she endured!" He seems to feel guilt for his bad care for the withering plant. He refers to the geranium as "she" which attributes to the speakers idea of the plant being a woman. "Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me, and that way scary" This observation by the speaker shows the reader how deeply the speaker believes the plant is really alive, human being. Even though the owner of the plant seemed to not care much for the geranium because of the way he treated it, at the end he gets back at the maid who threw the flower away by firing her. "I was that lonely", is the last statement the speaker makes about his life, without his geranium. This simple sentence sums up the speakers true love for the flower and how sad he is that "she" is now gone.

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