In Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s waltz” the reader finds a horrid experience, the beating of a child by his father, which is told in a way of a romantic and beautiful dance – the waltz. The feeling one get from reading this poem is that the narrator, at least at the time in which the poem is written, does not look at this experience as something bad. He tries to beautify the experience by making it a waltz. He also, by means of images and rhythm, shows the conflict between the readers, or the way any other ‘normal’ man will look at this experience, and how he sees it, or wants it to be seen ( although he does not show his father as completely innocent). It can also be looked upon as the Petty Herst syndrome – meaning having a ‘reality’ so intense …show more content…
The poet is led around the house, dancing – not beaten around. Which is also brought throu by the meter – trecet iamb – the beat of the waltz, thus the main image is shown through the meter as well, giving the reader more of the feeling of a dance in contrast to the ‘secondery images’ which are more associated with the rough experience of a beating. Given such parameters the poet installs some sort of relaxation in the reader (maybe even in himself), in order to make the subject – the beating – more readable, and lessening the effect of the drunkenness and the beatings, making his father more human. By this dance metaphor the whole routine of the beating is messeged. The drunken father, his breath “Could make a small boy dizzy”, yet the boy hangs “on like death”. The word death is important, usualy the word death, in love poems, shows truthfullness and undesputable love, as in marriage one promises to love to death, to never leave even if what is left is just a memory – as happens in this poem. The boy will love his father to end; although, a great bitterness remains in the memory – the drunkenness, failure (“every step you missed”), and the beating deriving from these failure and drunkenness. For each failure ” My right ear scraped a buckle ” – The boy is accused for his father’s failures. Another way in which the love to the father is shown is the way in which the father is …show more content…
He does not lessen the impact of these beatings or their brutality. The beatings was so hard that the “pans Slid from the kitchen shelf “, the beatings were hard on the poet – ” Such waltzing was not easy ” – and also made a change in the boys point of life. The poet tells that the father beats ” time on my head “, meaning the beatings made his childhood go away, time ran faster for him, beating him as his father did, as if making him mature faster than others, but he does not accuse his father of that. One accusing finger does rise, and that is toward the mother, who “Could not unfrown ” her ” countenance “, as if the poet’s mother does not react in order to maintain this or that frown that will leave her ‘undignified’, as if stopping his father from beating him is not of her duties – putting the blame away from his
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Theodore Roethke's poem “My Papa's Waltz” is a unique American poem which is written in iambic trimeter. The poem captures the sometimes intense relationship between father and son. Roethke's own father, a German immigrant, died when he was still a teenager. His father was a major inspiration in his life and images from his childhood appear throughout his poetry. A biographer, Matt Forster comments that “His poems are often explorations of his own psyche, using imagery from his childhood to describe his interior life (Forster 2005).” He became one of the best known American poets by the end of his lifetime in 1963. In the famous poem “My Papa's Waltz” the author uses musicality and deep psychologically-rooted themes to create a poem that is unforgettable and alive with action. The poem is composed in iambic trimeter which parallels the 1, 2, 3 tempo of a waltz. This feature helps in creating the illusion of musicality and dancing as is suggested in the poem's title. Thematically the poem comments on the oedipal complex, the intimate relationship between father and son, loss, memory and music.
While the subject of “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke has spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students alike, the imagery, syntax, and diction of the poem clearly support the interpretation that Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to illustrate an affectionate memory of a dance between his father and his younger self. The nostalgic tone weaved throughout the poem’s creative structure and descriptions of his fond memory.
The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke uses imagery and a tone to paint a picture of something but, means something different. This idea is to illustrate that things are not always what they seem. In doing so as humans people like to see or think the worst. This poem exploits this flaw and means something completely different. It uses imagery to make the poem appear to be a father abusing his daughter. This poem depicts the father as a man who drinks way too much and takes his anger out on his daughter shown here, “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy,” (Line 1 and 2) In fact that is not the case at all the tone is very serious even though the deeper meaning of the poem is happy. The author utilizes these two literary elements elements very well to challenge the reader to dig deeper.
He was being abused as a child and did not know what to do to stop it. Even though his father was very drunk, he still tried to hold on and dance with him, so that he would not be abused. Roethke, being a small child, was very vulnerable and unable to protect himself. The only person who could protect him from a drunk, abusive father was his mother. She, however, was also being abused and was scared to do anything in fear of being beat again. Why is Roethke being so vague? He is still afraid to speak out the truth openly because of what has already happened. He has become brainwashed to believe that if he ever does speak out, his father will beat him again. This is why he has wrote the poem in a way to make us believe that he was just having a good time with his father, who was slightly drunk, but also showing that it was a scary time for
Roethke's “My Papa's Waltz” explores a complicated relationship between and alcoholic father and his son. The complex text uses stanzas and iambic trimeter to express tense situations between father and son. Roethke utilizes a direct address to, through the use of violent diction and painful imagery, illustrate the inner turmoil of the son as he “hangs on like death” to the dying connection he shares with his father. The narrator is a child terrorized by his abusive father and the insidious tone of the piece looks to demonstrate that “My Papa’s Waltz” is more disturbing than a playful romp around the bedroom.
Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” is a recollection of a little boy’s relationship with his father which depicts child abuse that is summarized into one incident. Theodore Roethke was outstanding in the way he portrayed the abuse by using the melody of the waltz that expresses how the speaker feels by the actions of his father. The waltz is being used as a long metaphor for the father and small boy’s relationship, and the use of metaphors give details of the disturbing link between the father, the mother, and the small boy. The waltz is supposed to be an elegant and friendly dance, but the dance in this poem indicates a gloomier side to it that shows the reader strong disturbing feeling beneath the poem’s exterior.
pity in the reader by reflecting on the traumatic childhood of her father, and establishes a cause
Family bonds are very important which can determine the ability for a family to get along. They can be between a mother and son, a father and son, or even a whole entire family itself. To some people anything can happen between them and their family relationship and they will get over it, but to others they may hold resentment. Throughout the poems Those Winter Sundays, My Papa’s Waltz, and The Ballad of Birmingham family bonds are tested greatly. In Those Winter Sundays the relationship being shown is between the father and son, with the way the son treats his father. My Papa’s Waltz shows the relationship between a father and son as well, but the son is being beaten by his father. In The Ballad of Birmingham the relationship shown is between
"My Papa 's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke 's, is a poem about a boy who expresses his affection for his father, but at the same time expresses a sense of danger that comes from the father. The poem appears to be a snapshot in time from a child’s memory. The uplifting experience is created through the father and son’s waltz while the father’s uncontrollable movements juxtaposes the menace of the drunken father.
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.
Poems are often designed to express deep feelings and thoughts about a particular theme. In Theodore Roethke’s poem, My Papa’s Waltz, and Ruth Whitman’s poem, Listening to grownups quarreling, the theme of childhood is conveyed through their details, although we can neither see a face nor hear a voice. These poems are very much alike in their ideas of how their memories pertain to the attitudes of their childhood; however, the wording and tones of the two poems are distinct in how they present their memories. The two poems can be compared and contrasted through the author’s use of tone, imagery, and recollection of events; which illustrate each author’s memories of childhood.
The poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, is about a boy reminiscing about an incidence with his father. From the beginning, this poem states the conflict between a father and son involved in a rambunctious dance, but as it continues, the story suggests the dance may actually be a physical altercation. Within the line, “Such waltzing was not easy,” is the proposal this is not a singular incident, but rather a routine ritual between the boy and his father (Line 4). The speaker is an adult recollecting, to himself as the audience, a childhood memory of an incident with his father. As the poem opens, the child recalls his father engaging in act of the drinking whiskey to the extent that the fumes of his breath made him dizzy or lightheaded, as if the adrenaline coursing through his veins from wrestling or struggling with his father wasn’t enough to make him unsteady. The child is hanging on to his father as a way of protecting himself from the assault being inflicted upon him. When the narrator states within the simile, “But I hung on like death,” death symbolizes a force inescapable and not able to release its grasp (3). As the poem continues, the speaker uses the term “romped” to describe the movement within the waltz. A waltz is an elegant, flowing type of dance and one does not “romp” through a waltz. The two participants are causing such a ruckus, the mother’s pans slide off a shelf in the kitchen. As the mother looks on, she is silent with only a frown as an expression of her disapproval. The speaker states his father’s hand “was battered on one knuckle,” suggesting the hand had been injured possibly from another violent incident in the past (10). As the commotion continues, the child is “waltzed” into his bedroom, the ...
Childhood experiences seem to be the ones that are recollected most vividly throughout a person's life. Almost everyone can remember some aspect of his or her childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant alike. Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz" suggests even further that this concept could be true. The dance described in this poem illustrates an interaction between father and child that contains more than the expected joyous, loving attitude between the two characters. Roethke's tone in this work exhibits the blended, yet powerful emotions that he, as a grown man, feels when looking back on this childhood experience. The author somewhat implicates feelings of resentment fused with a loving reliance with his father.
This poem has a kept form. Even at a glance, it has a set form. It consists of four quatrains, each line being an iambic tritameter. The poem is about a young boy waltzing with his father. One can assume that the speaker is a young boy, or perhaps the poet reminiscing his youth. The father dances around in a haphazard manner, knocking over pans in the kitchen. Upon first glance, the tone is humorous. The picture one immediately forms is rather comical with the boy clinging on for dear life as his chuckling father spins him round and round, making a mess in the kitchen while the mother looks on discontentedly. However, the line, "whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy" suggests the father's drunkedness and "at every step you missed my right ear scraped buckle" suggests the dance was not an altogether joyful one. Lines such as "hung on like death", and "beat time on my head" are might even lead the reader to think the father is abusive of the boy.