Interpretation of “My Papa’s Wallet”
“My Papa’s Waltz” was written by Theodore Roethke, which is a stanza poem with 16 lines. The narrator of the poem seems to be a young child speaking about an experience with his drunken father. In this poem the father came home after a night of drinking. As the father enters the house he grabs the child by the wrist with his battered knuckles, which indicates that he works with his hands. Playfully knocking down the pans, the mother irritated gives them an unhappy frown.
The rhyme scheme is as follows, breath/death, dizzy/easy, pans/countenance, shelf/itself, wrist/missed, knuckle/buckle, head/bed and shirt/dirt. It’s obvious that the rhyme scheme is abab/cdcd. The rhyming in this poem seems to imitate the ordered steps of the dance of the poem’s title. However, it serves to show up the joyfulness that a person thinks of with the waltz.
There is alliteration in every stanza, except in the last stanza. “Waltzing was” has the recurring sound of the letter “w”, which has a calm sound (line number 4). There are other indications that the waltz sounds loud, but the alliteration makes waltzing sound calm and usual. “Countenance/could” have the sound of the frequent “c” which is a stanza with an exact sound (7/8). “Hand that held” is similar to the first stanza, which has a caring sound, “hand….held”, is a an extreme contrast with the battered knuckle and scraped ear (9).
“The hand that held” is assonance. “Still clinging to your shirt” is another assonance. The word “romped” is a connotation of disruptiveness, which the dancing in the kitchen
caused the utensils to fall from the shelf. The tone of the poem is joyful and playful, because it seems that the father and the son are having a great time.
The five main images that appear in the poem are gustatory, aural, visual, tactile and olfactory. The...
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