A Commentary on the Geranium by Theodore Roethke

The poem “The Geranium” by Theodore Roethke tells the story of a bachelor, previously a celebration animal, now a lonely, aging man, via a sustained metaphor which makes use of the speaker’s geranium as an emblem for the disregard of his own health. The plant is rarely well, nor is he, due to the speaker being as inconsiderate to the geranium as he’s to himself. With imagery, alliteration, and symbolism, much is learned concerning the speaker via a simple geranium to which he’s intrinsically intertwined.

We can see proper from the start with strains similar to “limp and bedraggled . . . / . . . like a sick poodle / Or a wizened aster in late September,” (2-4) that our speaker does not think very highly of himself nor his geranium. The descriptors give a pathetic, aging really feel; the comparability to a “wizened aster” is particularly potent. It suggest that just like the flower, the speaker is no longer “in bloom”, so-to-speak. That his color has faded, and he is previous his prime.

The themes of getting older and coming into a model new life stage come up once more in line 6: “For a brand new routine –”. The caesura brings the reader to a halt; its sudden and last nature is paying homage to an ending. The phrases in the line itself point out a brand new starting, which creates an fascinating impact. This line might be representative of the tip of the speaker’s youth and bachelorhood, as properly as the start of a new point in his life. The act of taking the geranium out to the trash is also symbolic of adjusting life stages; inserting it by the trash could be representative of the end of one cycle, and bringing it again could characterize beginning anew.

In following with the thought of starting anew, our speaker exhibits plans of way of life change; he plans to alter for the better and agrees that “Sustenance seemed sensible” (8) The alliteration here evokes a childlike, somewhat self-deprecating feel, as though the speaker is chiding himself for not remembering something that appeared so easy. The proven truth that the speaker managed to neglect this in the first place could also point out that he has let his health go up to now, which is additional evidenced close to the tip of the stanza, the place the speaker talks about living “. . . on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, lifeless beer” (10) as well as the consequences of such irresponsible actions; he talks of being “shriveled” and “dried out”. It’s clear each the speaker and his plant have suffered from such a way of living. It also appears to reveal the careless and considerably incompetent nature of the speaker. After all, when you can’t even deal with a plant, how will you deal with yourself?

In the subsequent stanza we get another look into our speaker’s former life. He talks of “ . . .dumb dames shrieking half the night” (16) as nicely as more mention of alcohol. The pieces of the speaker’s past we now have acquired thus far could be put collectively to type the picture of a reckless bachelor who provides no considered tomorrow. With the present occasions of the poem, we are ready to see how this way of life doesn’t do a lot for our speaker now that tomorrow is right here. In this stanza we also get to hear to the narrator describe himself instantly for the first time, however he nonetheless ties himself to the plant, showcasing how closely interconnected he and the geranium are. The speaker says that they are each “seedy”, which is a quite attention-grabbing play on words because of the fact that it means sordid or shabby, or might be used within the context of plant seeds. The term acknowledges both the similarities and variations between the speaker and the geranium.

In the third stanza and last two strains, the speaker’s maid tosses the geranium within the trash which angers him so much he fires her. The actions of the maid would obviously hurt our speaker, seeing as the miserable, wilted geranium was his solely pal. There can be the chance that it was the cause for the actions of the maid that actually wounded the narrator; that is was the truth that the maid saw something so analogous to himself as useless trash that drove him into sufficient of a rage to sack his maid. Thus the poem ends with the speaker no better off than he was in the beginning; maybe even worse, now that the maid has brought to mild how nugatory the speaker’s life really is.

Even although plants and persons are seen as self-sufficient organisms, “The Geranium” highlights that to have the ability to actually blossom, care, compassion and companionship from one other are required. Theodore Roethke’s use of dreary, aged language and bland settings create a desolate environment which supplies the framework for the tale of a person who appears to have disregarded this until it was too late.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply