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The Bat

By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.

His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.

He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.

But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:

For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face. 

—Theodore Roethke

From Collected poems of Theodore Roethke
My Doubleday, 1938

Copyright 1938 by Theodore Roethke.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Random House Inc. Copyright 1938 by Randon House Inc. For further permissions information, contact Doubleday Permissions Dept c/o Random House Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Theodore Roethke (1908–1963) is the author of ten poetry collections, including The Walking (Doubleday, 1953) which won the Pulitzer Prize. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, his father was a German immigrant who owned and ran a 25-acre greenhouse. He attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Learn more about Theodore Roethke at The Poetry Foundation.