Those Winter Sundays and My Papa's Waltz

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The poems Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden and My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke are two very similar works of literature. Both poems deal with the narrator looking back on the lives of their fathers and recalling certain events from the past. Those Winter Sundays deals with the narrator looking back on how her father sacrificed everything for the family and was never fully appreciated. My Papa’s Waltz deals with the narrator looking back at a time where he played joyfully with his father.

The poem My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke deals with the narrator’s recollection of his father. Although certain references throughout the poem such as “the whiskey on your breath”(line1), and “the hand that held my wrist was battered on one knuckle”(lines 9-10) could possibly suggest that the father had a slight drinking or anger problem, most readers find the poem to be cheerful and fun. It is very possible that the narrator is telling the story to describe and remember a fun time he had with his father. The narrator describes “waltzing” with his father in the family kitchen and recalls how “mothers countenance could not unfrown itself”(lines 7-8), describing how his mother didn’t find this “waltzing” to be amusing. My Papa’s Waltz is not a poem written to describe an abusive father or a broken home, it is written as a light hearted throwback to when the narrator was young. The poem is meant to be enjoyed and convey a fun, happy tone.

The poem Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden also deals with the narrator recalling a time when she was younger. Unlike My Papa’s Waltz, Those Winter Sundays has a more dark and sad tone. The narrator recalls how “on Sundays too” her father would wake up and start to work. The whole poem was written to describe how the narrator’s father had to work day and night to support the family and keep the house warm. This poem, although much more sad than the first, still has a somewhat loving feel to it. By the end of the poem, the...
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