From the Dust Jacket: This study not only reveals the important contribution to poetry that Theodore Roethke provided, but also illuminates his effect on five major present-day poets-James Wright, Robert Bly, James Dickey, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes-who acknowledge Roethke's influence. By utilizing the critical analysis and biographical insights in the literature, Professor Williams compares five modern poets with their mentor and reevaluates and examines the poetry loved by poets, written by the poet's poet. Throughout Roethke's life and even after his death, most poets have enthusiastically praised his work, while major critics have generally ignored or slighted him. What is particularly admirable in Roethke's poetry is his unusual intensity of the lyric voice, the projection of a preconscious self into the life of plants and animals, utilizing highly original free-verse patterns; as poet John Berryman describes it, "Teutonic, irregular, colloquial, delicate, botanical and psychological, irreligious, personal." The author begins with an overview of the critical and biographical literature that is both laudatory and captious, providing insightful quotes from both Roethke's prose and his poetry. In his conclusion of this overview, Mr. Williams determines a need for a thorough analysis of the "major" long poems-"The Lost Son" (1948), "Meditations of an Old Woman" (1953), "North American Sequence" (1964)-pointing out their thematic and methodological unity. The subsequent three chapters treat each poem individually, discovering and reemphasizing several important factors. The fourth chapter distills the Roethkean mode and underscores Roethke's particular achievement of having given a lasting expression to the modern problem of identity by establishing an "edge" between a sense of identity and its dissolution into the nonhuman "other." By setting up patterns of regeneration in the poetry, Roethke manages to oscillate between these two poles of meaning. In the final chapter Roethke's influence among five representative poets is explored and examined in the light of the Roethkean mode and point of view that serve to establish criteria for their respective critical assessments.