Roethke, Theodore (rĕtˈkə) [key], 1908–63, American poet, b. Saginaw, Mich., educated at the Univ. of Michigan and Harvard. A poet of the Midwest, Roethke combined a love of the land with his vision of the development of the individual. The moods of his poetry range from acid wit to simple feeling, his poetic technique from straightforward language and meters to free forms that approach the surreal. Among his volumes of poetry are Open House (1941), The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948), The Waking (1953, Pulitzer Prize), Words for the Wind (1957), I Am! Says the Lamb (1961), and The Far Field (1964). On the Poet and His Craft (1965) contains essays and lectures.
See his notebooks, ed. by D. Wagoner (1980); letters, ed. by R. J. Mills, Jr. (1968); biography by A. Seager (1968); studies by J. Parini (1979) and R. Stiffler (1986).