My Papa's Waltz Personal Analysis

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Index:

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………1 Essay……………………………………………………………………………………………………2 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………5 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………………6

Introduction:

For this paper, you will be able to encounter the various meanings, tones, structure, my personal opinion and analysis of the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke. For more to add, you will also encounter with a brief biography of the poet Roethke which will explain why the poet wrote this poem and how much meaning it has for him.

The reason why I chose this poem out of the other seven choices that were given was because this poem captivated me. The poem itself has a lot of parts in which it amazed me, but what amazed me the most was of how the poet could give two opposite actions, feelings and emotions; that ambiguity all at the same time.

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Essay:

“My Papa’s Waltz” was first written in 1942 by Theodore Roethke. It centers in the idea of the relationship between a father and a son.

Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in which he spent much of his childhood in the greenhouse –enlarging his love towards nature– where his father and uncle worked in. Roethke had a harsh childhood, which can be portrayed in many of his poems, as his father and uncle died at an early age. Maybe it was these harsh moments that depict the reason why Roethke’s poems are so confusing and hard to know what he wants to say.

“My Papa’s Waltz” is an iambic trimeter with an ABAB rhyme. It consists of 4 stanzas, each stanza having 4 lines, also called a quatrain. It is iambic because according to the shmoop page, one unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed one(1). Also, it is a trimeter because it has three stressed syllables. Relating to the tone, it can be seen first as violent but when looked deeply, it has a lovely, amiable and cheerful tone. Last but not least, it is a poem considered to depict connotation as it gives the association of a secondary meaning of a word or expression(2).

Related to the analysis of the poem, Roethke is describing about one of his few memories he had with his father before he passed out. It kind of leads you at first to believe that the father is abusing and mistreating him but when you reach to the end of the poem, you end up realizing that they were having a great time together.

As Roethke is famous for being ambiguous in his writings, I will first talk about the dark and violent side and then the lovely and amiable side which can be perceived by the reader; but will clarify which side I’m taking at the final stanza.

In the first stanza, it can be perceived as something violent right away by seeing the words “dizzy”, and “death”. These are strong vocabulary and the voice of the boy seems kind of scared. In contrast, it could have meant that the father just had a few sips of whiskey and because the boy was still a child, just a small amount of alcohol could have made him dizzy. Also, by saying that he ‘hung on like death’ could be that as he didn’t share too 2

saying that he ‘hung on like death’ could be that as he didn’t share too much time with his dad, he held on to his father very strong as he enjoyed it.

In the second stanza, the violence gets worse as the utensils in the kitchen fall and the mother’s face frowns of disapproval. This can be the most direct evidence of violence in the whole poem. But, it can also show a positive side, for example they were having so much fun and delight that they created a mess in the kitchen and the mother was frowning because she had to clean all the mess up. Or, it could also have been that the mother was frowning in disbelief of how much fun the father and the son were having together. One last option of the mother frowning could be because she was jealous of not being part of the fun the father and son were having. But most likely it would be the second reason, as it is the most reasonable one.

In the third...
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