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The Sloth

Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke (1905-1963) grew up in Michigan and spent his early years enjoying the natural surroundings that had been created near his grandfather's greenhouses. He attended college and after graduation taught English at several universities. He was a popular lecturer, though suseptible to alcoholism and bouts of depression. Roethke's total output of poetry was minimal and his first book (Open House) was published in 1941, when Roethke was 36 years old. His collected works (Words for the Wind) appeared in 1959.

Listen to poem!

The sloth is a sloth
and moving slow
he has no fear,
you ask him something in his ear
he thinks about it for a year
And then before he says a word
there upside down
unlike a bird
he will assume you will have heard
A most exasperating lug
but should you call his manner smug
he'll sigh,
and give his branch a hug
then off again to sleep he goes
still swaying gently by his toes
and you just know
he knows, he knows.