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Imagery in My Papa’s Waltz

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Imagery in My Papa’s Waltz  


Donald Hall describes the use of imagery in poetry as a device that "makes us more sensitive to [literature], as if we acquired eyes that could see through things"(p 530). Imagery creates vivid details that deal with one's sense of sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste. These details can be seen in Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" because the senses of touch, sight, sound, and smell appeal to the reader in order to better explain the feelings of each character in the poem. Roethke's use of imagery creates a negative picture that is painted by the son of an abusive father.

The poem "My Papa's Waltz" uses imagery by especially appealing to the sense of touch. The sense of touch also helps the reader to better understand the abusive father theme. The third stanza concentrates on the actual act of abuse. The author, Roethke, describes the battle wounds on the father and son that are inflicted by the father. The father's hand "was battered on one knuckle" from hitting his son with a belt (10). This is apparent because the son's "right ear scraped...

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