About the poet
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was an innovator, both in subject matter and form, writing in the...
The heron stands in water where the swamp
Has deepened to the blackness of a pool,
Or balances with one leg on a hump
Of marsh grass heaped above a musk-rat hole.
He walks the shallow with an antic grace.
The great feet break the ridges of the sand,
The long eye notes the minnow's hiding place.
His beak is quicker than a human hand.
He jerks a frog across his bony lip,
Then points his heavy bill above the wood.
The wide wings flap but once to lift him up.
A single ripple starts from where he stood
‘The Heron' © Theodore Roethke, from the Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Faber, 1985), used by permission of the publishers, Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., and Faber & Faber Ltd. Recording by permission of the BBC.