This poem is often interpreted as a sad and depressing piece of literature, I however find a different meaning in this poem, a darker meaning. There are many deep hidden meanings within each line of any given poem (usually) and Theodore Rothke had no intention of breaking the chain. In this analysis I will break down a few lines of this poem to reveal the deep shady abyss of concealed messages that is Theodore Rothke’s poem: “In a Dark Time”.
In the first line it reads: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,” this is the line that has the deepest hidden meaning. What Theodore means by this is that only when faced with the most tragic of events does a man “have his eyes opened” to the truth of what lies beyond his zip code. Mankind is oblivious to the terrors that suffocate the Earth and usually those that do, don’t care. Only once he is subjected to or experiences a portion of this terror does he learn the truth and sometimes even express a will to change it.
The second line reads: “I meet my shadow in the deepening shade”. As a continuation of the sentence started by the previous line, it can be assumed that Theodore is still on the subject of the “dark time” when he refers to the “deepening shade”. This is probably a metaphor for the tragic events that the “dark time” symbolizes, going from bad to worse. The “shadow” he speaks of is his dark side, or the worst of himself that is brought out and presented to him by the cataclysm that now surrounds him.
Many people ask the questions, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is (insert name of omnipotent entity here)’s plan for me? Theodore Rothke addresses this in the sixteenth line, which reads: “A man goes far to find out what he is”. This line really needs not be broken down in order to be understood as it is as straight forward as a bee-line, but I must bring attention to the line it precedes; Line 17: “Death of the self in a long, tearless night. This couplet goes well with the preceding line because it implies that the men of which Theodore refers, are not simply men without a cause, but men who, somewhere in their endeavors, had lost themselves. They had forgotten what their drive was, forgotten why they have chosen the path that they now walk, and forgotten what it is that they fight for, like a cop who joined the force because his father was killed in a robbery and somehow wound up working only for money and rank.
To conclude this analysis, I feel that I must say that these are by no means concrete facts put together with irrefutable evidence, but merely, a new window I have built through which I invite you to see this literary piece from a different point of view. Take it, let it penetrate your mind, and from that point you may do with it what you will. Thank you for your attention.