Essay on My Papa 's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

Essay on My Papa 's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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The poem, My Papa’s Waltz, by Theodore Roethke surrounds the relationship between a father and child as they spend time together before bed by dancing. Roethke references the waltz with clever wordplay and symbolism surrounding time, rhythm and beats. In addition, he sets the poem to a ¾ time, the same beat as a traditional waltz.
In the poem, the narrator’s viewpoint is that of a small child who shows endearment for his father by clinging to him despite his own physical discomfort and the disapproval of his mother. (Line 7-8) It is suspected that the narrator values the time with his father as he does not see him that often. Similarly, it is also shown in the end when the child clings to his father’s shirt as he is taken to bed. This viewpoint also would explain why the child does not let go of his father even though his ear is uncomfortably scraping against his belt buckle and his father is missing steps (Line 11-12). This shows that he values this short amount of time, so much so that he “hung on like death’ (Line 3) to his father’s shirt, a very desperate choice of words. It f...

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