Theodore Roethke's "I knew a Woman," Various Figures of Speach

Essay by sublimemilyCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 2004

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In the Poem "I Knew a Woman," the author, Theodore Roethke, uses figures of speech, primarily hyperbole and metaphor, to reveal the wonders of a woman's body, as well as to amplify pleasures in sexual relations that the speaker had with her. The fact that Hyperbole is used to describe the woman repeatedly throughout the poem suggests that she has great importance to the speaker and also implies his attitude towards her to be of amazement and admiration.

The speaker's use of Figure of speech is first introduced in the first stanza of the poem. Here Roethke uses word repetition in lines 2-4, creating a tone that is witty and playful, linking this attitude to his relationship with the woman. The use of word repetition (ex: L2 "When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them") is dominant in the first stanza, but also appears in the 2nd and 3rd stanza, which function to keep a playful tone throughout the entire poem.

For example line 17 "She played it quick, she played it light and loose" implies their relationship to be playful and fun versus serious and romantic.

In addition to the use of word repetition, the speaker also uses line 3 "Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one" to imply that the poem will move in many ways also. Line 4, "The shapes a bright container can contain!" is a pun, or a double meaning for the shapes that a woman makes in motion, since motion is emphasized throughout the poem. For example, Line 9 "She taught me Turn, and Counter-Turn, and Stand" creates vivid imagery of motion and dance, and also the mention of "mowing" L14 and "She moved in circles, and those circles moved" L21, contain sexual suggestiveness.

In the second...