Delia Rexroth


Mother of Kenneth Rexroth

Delia Rexroth died in 1916 when her only child Kenneth was 11. At the time of her death she was separated from her husband who through the early years of their marriage had taken to gambling, drinking and womanizing.

Delia died from a complication of a lung hemorrhage suffered three years earlier. The complication was misdiagnosed as tuberculosis.

In the year during her separation from her husband Kenneth was by her side constantly. They would take walks and go to museums together. When she became bedridden, instead of going to school, Kenneth would sit by her as she read history and natural science books to him. She encouraged and nurtured his interest in writing and art. As one of Rexroth biographers puts it, she developed in her son a passion for the "moral value of knowledge."

Rexroth had a great appreciation for his mother. She was an independent thinking woman who had a strong and secure self-image. Traits she tried to impart to her young son. On the 31st anniversary of her death Rexroth wrote the poem "Delia Rexroth." Here is part of that poem:

I took down a book of poems
That you used to like, that you
Used to sing to music I
Never found anywhere again--
Michael Field's book, Long Ago.
Indeed it's long ago now--
Your bronze hair and svelte body.
I guess you were a fierce lover,
A wild wife, an animal
Mother. And now life has cost
Me more years, though much less pain,
Than you had to pay for it.
And I have bought back, for and from
Myself, these poems and paintings,
Carved from the protesting bone,
The precious consequences
of your torn and distraught life.

Unfortunately after his mother's death Rexroth was sent for a brief time to live with his paternal grandmother who in her old age was mean-spirited and physically abused Kenneth.

Throughout his life Rexroth was attracted to women like his mother. However the mother-son bond, amplified in his imagination, made his relationships with women complicated and generally unsuccessful.

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Delia Rexroth- 1999 Cosmic Player Plate
Published: January 20, 1998
Copyright © 1999 by the Cosmic Baseball Association