The work that his father produces makes his knuckles bleed. As they continue to dance the little boy realizes that if he doesn’t keep up with his father’s dancing, his ear scrapes his father’s belt buckle. The father is having such a good time with his son, Roethke adds, “You beat time on my head / With a palm caked hard with dirt” (Roethke 13-14). The father with his filthy hands is playing drums on top of the little boy’s head. Roethke concludes with, “Then waltzed me off to bed/Still clin... ... middle of paper ... ...my life to have that moment back.
"This love dance, a kind of blood rite between father and son, shows suppressed terror combined with awe-inspired dependency" (Balakian 62). "The hand that held my wrist/was battered on one knuckle;/ At every step you missed/ My right ear scraped a buckle"(Roethke 668). The speaker's father's hand being "battered on one knuckle" is indicative of a man who... ... middle of paper ... ... quite demonstrative of how Bridges 5 powerful his feelings for his father must have been. "…Roethke tried, through careful revisions to balance negative and positive tones in 'My Papa's Waltz'" (McKenna 36). Although the dance between him and his father was rough and aggressive, the very fact that Roethke chose to write about the waltz indicates that it is a special moment he remembers sharing with his father.
Both poems “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden are poems in which the speaker (a son in both cases) attempts to explain his complex relationship with his father. It seems that the two poets are reflecting back in their early lives as young boys and showing different appreciation toward their father. In my interpretation “My Papa’s Waltz” is about a boy and that is excited that his father got home to play with him. Only problem is the speakers father is drunk and it hard to enjoy himself but he held on because the unconditional love he has for him, as the line says “The Whiskey on your breath / could make a boy dizzy; / But I hung like death: ” (1-2-3). However, “Those Winter Sundays” is more about a boy that really didn’t appreciate his father’s tough love and hard work to kept heat in the house as the third stanza said “what did I know, what did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices?” (13-14).
The irony of the statement, “I hung on like death” (Roethke line 3) is a private one, yet deeply describes his yearning for one more waltz with his father who passed away when Theodore was only fifteen years ... ... middle of paper ... ...s his father tucks him into bed. He reflects on their lives. They have had their ups and downs, their struggles and their victories, and all the way his strong hand has held onto him tightly and never let him go. And Theodore has hung on to his father noticing that even though his knuckle was battered, he still didn’t let go of him. He writes that every step Papa missed it hurt him too.
In Theodore Roethke’s life he encountered the death of his father and his uncle, and I believe he based “My Papa’s Waltz” on his dad. When he was just fourteen years old his father passed away from cancer and this death was dramatic to him and showed throughout his later writings. Bobby Fong said this poem is possibly a “happy memory” that Roethke remembers from this past when his dad and he would “playfully” dance around the kitchen (n.p.). Even if his father had a few drinks in him, because he had a long day at work, the young boy still wanted to do the waltz with his papa. I am sure we all have had a time where we horse played and got bumped around a lot.
In ?My Papa?s Waltz'; the title suggests a sense of love and honor. Usually when a child calls his father Papa they have a very close relationship in which the child respects and admires his father. Also, the use of the word Waltz suggests a Happy dance of high class people. This is ironic because Roethke?s father is drunken and dirty when this dance takes place, but when one thinks of the waltz they think of a dance between two high-classed people in an extravagant ballroom. Another example of the child?s love and respect for his father is illustrated in the things he overlooks just to be able to carryout the dance.
One of the few things that is clear in the poem is that in the start of the poem, the father was drunk “The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy” (1-2) and that the father grabbed his son and was waltzing with him. This could either mean that the father was getting physical with his son in a violent manner simply because he was under the influence, or was dancing with him. If they were just dancing, one can just imagine that the son just got on his father’s shoes, and the father was the one dancing. This is unclear simply because when one is drinking, the way they act is unpredictable. The wording of the poem makes it seem like the son is either using the word waltz to make the readers know that his drunken father was not being violent but showing affection in an uncommon way or to hide the violence that may have been happening.
Theodore Roethke’s poem, My Papa’s Waltz (1948), presents both a warming memory of a boy and his father as well as a dark story of an abusive childhood. Combining a story of both joy and horror sends an important message of abuse and the fear it instills in the victims. Through Roethke’s structure and word choice in My Papa’s Waltz presents two stories which simultaneously depict the fear and Stockholm Syndrome type love often found in abusive relationships. My Papa’s Waltz presents a child’s telling of the waltz taking place between him and his father. As a verb, a waltz is “to move or walk in a lively and confident manner” (“Waltz”).
In addition, Roethke writes that he “hung on like death,” and since death is inescapable and hangs on to everyone, we can assume that as a child he never wanted to be separated from his father. He then writes, “such waltzing was not easy.” This line itself speaks to the relationship between him and his father. The “waltz” of life between the two was not easy, but it is an inseparable dance between two entities. It isn’t until the next stanza where Roethke really shows us what is happening in this poem. “We romped until the pans/ Slid from the kitchen shelf;/ My mother’s countenance/ Could not unfrown itself.
Notably, the denotation “romping” can mean, “to play roughly and energetically” (Google), but it can also have a connotation that the boy is hurt or in pain. Furthermore, stanza two also mentions the “mother’s countenance/ could not unfrown itself” (7- 8) which is unusual in the description of playing. While the father and son are playing, the mother is standing aside frowning. Her unhappiness contrasts the playful description of the waltz, which gives the poem its sense of seriousness. In other words, it tells the reader that there is much more happening here than the father and son playing.