Excerpt Tuesday – Sensibility! O La! – Theodore Roethke

SensibilityOLaAnother one from the earliest days of the blog. Throughout his life, Mr. Roethke kept extensive notebooks of thoughts, quotes, and ideas for his poems – but he was very selective about what made it into print and his biographer estimated that only 3% of the lines found in those notebooks made it into his poems. After reading his poem “Sensibility! O La!,” “mamorean” became my favorite new word for a while (it means “of marble”) – likewise with the nearly Shakespearean insult “wench of things.” To entice you read the whole poem (here!), it also includes lines such as: “Can a cat milk a hen?” and “that old harpy secreting toads in her portmanteau…” Makes you wonder what else was in those notebooks!  Photograph (looking up at Tara Donovan’s amazing sculpture made entirely of styrofoam cups – “Untitled (2003)”) and composition by me.



    1. Thank you! I don’t know if the scale is apparent from the photograph, but the sculpture is massive – it takes up the whole ceiling in its gallery. Definitely worth a visit if you stop by the MFA Boston. I know her work is in a few museums around the country. “Mamorean” is such a great word – I like that biology connection!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That sculpture was absolutely made to curve and curdle around lines by Roethke — nice job on the photo!


    1. Thank you! I’ve seen the sculpture multiple times and I am still blown away that all the movement and complexity comes from styrofoam cups glued together and mounted on the ceiling. I think Mr. Roethke would have liked it.


    1. agreed – “Sensibility! O La!” was the first poem I ever read by him – and every time I read it I get something new and see more layers.


Comments are closed.