Comparing Those Winter Sundays to My Papa's Waltz

Topics: Poetry, Guilt, Theodore Roethke Pages: 3 (1087 words) Published: February 26, 2007
Battered Memories: Child and Father Relationships In "Those Winter Sundays" and "My Papa's Waltz"
"Sundays too my father got up early and / And put his clothes on in the blueback cold" comes from Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and describes the life of the speaker who reminisces of the childhood experiences that were spent with the speaker's father (1-2). "At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle" comes from Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz and also exemplifies a past relationship between a child and father (11-2). Despite the many similarities that exist between Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" and Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" the tone, diction, and poetic devices that are used in each poem convey different meanings.

The tone in "My Papa's Waltz" is very depressing and reflective, which establishes a sense of longing to readers. When recalling past experiences while speaking to his father the speaker remembers how his father " . . . beat time on [the speaker's] head / With a palm caked hard by dirt . . . [with the speaker] still clinging to [his father's] shirt" (13-4, 16). Even though the speaker still feels both the mental and physical stress that has been inflicted upon him by his father, the love that he possesses for his father does not die, which helps to establish the speaker's sense of longing. The fact that the speaker still clings to his father's shirt instead of fighting back exemplifies that this is the only type of love that the speaker is familiar with. The choice of words that are used in the poem also illustrate how much past experiences effect the speaker's life in the present.

The diction in "My Papa's Waltz" allows readers to get a better understanding of the speaker's childhood experiences. The speaker remembers and describes his younger experiences with his father and how they " . . . romped until the pans / Slid from the shelf" (7-8). The speaker is also devastated by the fact that "The...
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