“The Sloth” by Theodore Roethke

In moving slow he has no Peer.
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 that you have Heard

A most Ex-as-per-at-ing 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 justย knowย he knows he knows.


From reader Allein: “So I was sitting in my boss’s office this morning and he has this poem on his wall, and I thought the folks at your site would enjoy it.” (Photo: Sloth, by michael.culbertson, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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31 thoughts on ““The Sloth” by Theodore Roethke

  1. mariana June 14, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    wonderfull. thank you both to Allein and NTMTOM.

    • Smartypants June 14, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      …and Allein’s boss – much cooler office art than the usual stock photo of an eagle with a motto about excellence.

      • Phred's Mom June 15, 2016 / 8:23 am

        Ain’t that the truth.

        • debg June 15, 2016 / 10:06 am

          hear hear

  2. Faye June 14, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    Thank you. Apt description.

  3. Gigi_the cat lady June 14, 2016 / 3:26 pm

    Love it!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. allein June 14, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    Yay! That was quicker than I expected! ๐Ÿ™‚

    (On a side note, this was part of the Poetry In Motion program on the NYC subway system.)

    • Not That Mike The Other Mike June 14, 2016 / 3:42 pm

      Not entirely sure a poem celebrating slowness is really the best choice for a transit service, but OK… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Brouhaha June 14, 2016 / 3:52 pm


      • allein June 14, 2016 / 3:59 pm

        lol…perhaps they wanted to remind people to slow down..

      • Kar June 14, 2016 / 5:03 pm

        Have you waited for a train or sat in rush hour traffic in NYC? I think at some point you embrace the pace.

        You can only snap so many pictures of pizza-toting rats.

        • Emmberrann June 14, 2016 / 7:43 pm

          You are so right! Been there, done that, can’t tell you how many times I been there!

  5. Murray C. June 14, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    Hey! You can almost see a zipper down his left side there – see??? He must be a Yeti – or an As-Yeti. Or, or, something.

  6. murkle46 June 14, 2016 / 8:22 pm


  7. Zapes June 15, 2016 / 12:25 am

    The photo is upside down, no?

    Love Roethke.

    • Faye June 15, 2016 / 9:07 pm


  8. Phred's Mom June 15, 2016 / 8:29 am

    Allein, you have a boss with his head
    in the right place. Bosses like this get
    excellence without the tiresome
    cliched platitudes. Been there, etc.

    • Phred's Mom June 15, 2016 / 8:51 am


      • Smartypants June 15, 2016 / 9:12 am

        My (former) boss had a motto in his office that I actually really liked:

        Show up
        Pay attention
        Do your best
        And let go of the outcome

        I think it applies to so much in life, not just work! I left there in 2010 and I still remember it.

        • allein June 15, 2016 / 9:20 am

          I’ll have to remember that last line. I’ve been working on something the past few weeks that has me very stressed out. The final outcome, however, is up to someone else’s approval, and he seems to think it looks okay. I’m still paranoid that some little detail somewhere is going to be messed up and someone will get mad at me.

          • Phred's Mom June 15, 2016 / 12:41 pm

            Even if they do, Allein, remember to let go of the outcome.
            To do otherwise lies madness. And a trip to the store for more
            whipped cream. Get more anyway.
            Ah has spoken! Apologies to A Capp.

            • Murray C. June 15, 2016 / 1:10 pm

              Good luck, Allein – hope all goes well. If whipped cream doesn’t work go snorgle something.

            • allein June 15, 2016 / 9:20 pm

              Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! Today was a little calmer. I even got out almost on time…had time to take a walk in the park (and see lots of young deer with their fuzzy new mini-antlers!) and still get home in time for Jeopardy. Now watching a rerun of American Ninja Warrior and trying to decide between pudding pie with whipped cream or Belgian milk chocolate gelato (with whipped cream).

        • Faye June 15, 2016 / 9:11 pm

          Let go. Then go get a pint of your favorite icecream and eat the whole thing slowly with a tea spoon when it gets just a bit melty. When the sugar hits take a nap in a cool room and no clock.

          • Faye June 15, 2016 / 9:14 pm

            Mind you my advice is purely anecdotal. NOT from personal experience. ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ˜ด

            • allein June 15, 2016 / 9:39 pm

              lol…I opted for pudding pie. With whipped cream. Though I do like your advice and will surely take it in the future.

              ๐Ÿฎ “custard” was the closest emoji I could find…and how is there no emoji for pie?

              • allein June 15, 2016 / 9:41 pm

                And is it just me, or are emojis no longer color pictures on here? All I’m seeing are black line drawings.

                • Not That Mike The Other Mike June 15, 2016 / 9:45 pm

                  Thanks for the feedback. After you asked that, I made a quick configuration change. If you notice any difference, please let me know.

                  • allein June 15, 2016 / 10:24 pm

                    Now they’re back to normal ๐Ÿ™‚

              • Faye June 16, 2016 / 1:39 am

                Pudding pie with whipped cream was a good choice. Same difference. โ€ผ๏ธ

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