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...perpetrated on the small child (13). Tapped or stroked may have been a more tactile image designated in the place of the word “beat” if this was truly a frolicking moment between a father and son. The next line, “With a palm caked hard by dirt,” the speaker uses this syntax to sympathize with the father and excusing his actions based his working class upbringing (14). The last two lines of the poem, “Then waltzed me off to bed / Still clinging to your shirt,” as the action diminishes, the child is clearly grasping in terror, afraid to let go of his father for fear of reprisal (15, 16). The word “clinging” is a denotation of the speaker adhering to a memory of his past.
Roethke, Theodore.“My Papa’s Waltz.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama.
Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 773. Print.
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