Analysis of Poems by Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden

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While most of us think back to memories of our childhood and our relationships with our parents, we all have what he would call defining moments in our views of motherhood or fatherhood. It is clearly evident that both Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden have much to say about the roles of fathers in their two poems as well. While the relationships with their fathers differ somewhat, both men are thinking back to a defining moment in their childhood and remembering it with a poem. "My Papa's Waltz" and "Those Winter Sundays" both give the reader a snapshot view of one defining moment in their childhood, and these moments speak about the way these children view their fathers. Told now years later, they understand even more about these moments.
What the narrator remembers about his childhood is "waltzing" across the kitchen with his father. The narrator is an adult when he writes this poem looking back to this "dance" across the floor as encompassing the feeling of his childhood. His father would come home smelling of whiskey and "waltz" his son around the kitchen. The two of them "romped until pans slid from the kitchen shelf" (Roethke). This hyperbole also shows the silliness of the situation. The mother is not too happy about this little romp as shown by the frown on her "countenance." The fact that the author did not just use the word face seems to say something about the child's more stern relationship with his mother. As they dance, when the boy misses a step his ear scrapes his dad's belt buckle painfully, and finally the father whisks him off to bed. This is obviously a defining moment in his childhood.

Most of us can think of a time when we roughhoused or danced with our fathers, standing on their feet so that we could keep...

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...o so because they love their children. By reflecting back on this experience as an adult, Hayden gives the reader the chance to mend his/her ways before it is too late-to appreciate our fathers for all that they do.

Although Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden have very different experiences in childhood to write about, the overall message is appreciation of their fathers. Roethke's narrator appreciates that even though his father is not a polished dancer, he takes the time to roughhouse and dance with him as a boy. Even though it hurts a little, it is a fun moment between father and son. Hayden's narrator remembers what his father did for him every morning-lighting the fire and polishing his shoes-and has great regret that he didn't appreciate his father more for doing this things. However, Hayden gives us the chance, with this poem, to appreciate our fathers more.

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