My Papa's Waltz

Satisfactory Essays
Andres Barbeito

Professor Garcia

ENC1102

April 1, 2013

My Papa’s Waltz

Born in Saginaw Michigan, Theodore Roethke had a troubling childhood. With his works

as evidence, one can see that he had to bear a handful of calamities most of his life, one of them

being his relationship with his father. Now, the love for a father is a very distinctive love. In "My

Papa's Waltz", Theodore Roethke does an excellent job describing the relationship he has with

his father. In this short poem, one can easily get a taste of the type of childhood issues Roethke

had to endure. However, he illustrates unconditional love as his tone by employing rhythm,

metaphors, and imagery.

"My Papa's Waltz" is written in the format of ABAB. Examples of this rhythm can be

seen with words that end each line such as "breath; dizzy; death; easy". “Dizzy” and “Easy”

don’t rhyme perfectly, but they still fit the ABAB rhyme scheme. Although it may be a bit of a

stretch, the ABAB format may be used to symbolize the consistency of Roethke's love for his

father.

The whole poem is basically a metaphor in and of itself. The idea of the father's "Waltz"

is actually representing the enduring relationship the writer and his father have. They went

through this dance like a routine. The waltz may be a symbolic reference to the reoccurring

hardships Roethke would sustain from his father. And of course, he would withstand all of this

because of his unconditional love.

Throughout the poem, Roeothke injects pure imagery into the reader's mind. In the first

stanza, he states, "The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like

death: Such waltzing was not easy." Here, he plainly shows his adversity with his father by

demonstrating his drinking problem. On the last stanza, he writes, "You beat time on my

head/With a palm caked hard by dirt,/Then waltzed me off to bed/Still clinging to your shirt."

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