View Full Version : Rate-a-Poem: I Knew a Woman

William Haskins
12-05-2005, 08:54 AM
By Theodore Roethke (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/13)

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)
How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

12-05-2005, 09:39 AM
...come on all you chickens...

How could he describe me so well - before I was even born?
* * * * Four Stars

12-05-2005, 09:59 AM
Hey, I already voted.

12-05-2005, 11:23 AM
Oops. Just thought it was William's poem.

12-05-2005, 02:21 PM
I gave it three stars. It seems strangely emotionally detached, to me. I could dig through it line by line, and tell you where the language does that--at least in my reading--but no one else is being that critical. :) So I'll spare you.

12-05-2005, 03:07 PM
errr...he credits it at the top, KTC. Did I miss something? I didn't realize there was confusion over that.

12-05-2005, 03:11 PM
ah-HA! That'll teach me to skim. :) Rather flattering for William, though, eh?

12-05-2005, 07:35 PM
I give it 3 stars... interesting word choices and construction, but it's too on the surface for me. Like Mac, I didn't feel a strong emotion reaction to the poem.

That just shows you how little I know about poetry...

A. Hamilton
12-05-2005, 08:25 PM
I gave it three stars. The poem gives good visual, and to me gets better with each reading. The language sorta trips me up..seems to slide between arather old-fashioned style to a more modern almost sing-songy motion. But somehow that works.
Great idea (the rate-a-poem) Mr Haskins :)

12-05-2005, 11:39 PM
I gave it three stars. The poet's crafting skills are evident. However, without the parenthetical lines, the tone felt entirely artificial to me. By the end of the poem, I felt this odd sense of tension, as if the poet had a split personality, one persona that wanted to write a lofty poem and one that wanted to speak from the heart.

On second thought, I should have given it two stars, in the time since reading the piece, the only thing I'm remembering is its split personality.

12-06-2005, 12:51 AM
Three stars. I admire the construction and the way the poet used rhythm and word choices to convey motion, but I don't like it on a personal or emotional level. It didn't touch or inspire me. I don't feel it was reflective enough.

12-06-2005, 12:58 AM
A few lines in this piece would make any woman envious to be thus described, but overall, eh.

12-07-2005, 02:18 AM
My favorite lines

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,


(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Ahhh, poetry!

12-07-2005, 10:33 AM
Overall, I agree with Mac and Ray, but I actually gave it a 2. At first, I found it a bit provocative, but then I found myself rather resenting its titillating qualities as early century softcore wrapped in "art." I don't know if that makes sense to anyone; I am very, very overtired tonight. But I've read it a few times, and I find it less tolerable each time. Now, this may eventually mean that I will "evolve" and come to love it; similar things have happened. I might have considered rating it a 3 for the writing quality, but it did move me—in the wrong direction.

12-08-2005, 01:16 AM
If this poem was posted in Poetry Crit. I would have said it is too long. Good start on the first two lines. He did describe an interesting woman though. I gave it a 2. Not my type. Too hard to dance to.