my papa's waltz

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My Papa’s Waltz: brutal or lighthearted? Whenever a poem is written without a clear understanding on how it should be interpreted both positive and negative emotions arise. One might try to pick up on the catchy rhymes that are meant for it to be comical, while other notice the harsh adjective and nouns associating with death. When a poem combines the innocence of a child at play associating with a drunken, hardworking father a lighthearted and brutal mental picture arises in one’s head. In the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodor Roethke, elements of humor and fear arise in many scholars interpretations, while I believe that the elements of fear coming from the young boys lines eliminate any humorous aspect.
Professor Ronald R. Janssen’s interpretation of “My Papa’s Waltz” picks up the lightheartedness of the poem as well as the mentions of death. He mentions the mental image of the term waltz and how it is used throughout the poem. Towards the beginning of the poem the image of a young boy at mercy to his father holds on while his drunken father attempts to waltz around the room to imaginary music (Jannsen). This brings lightheartedness imagining a young boy and father frolicking throughout the living room after a father’s hard day at work. He states the term “waltzed me off to bed” uses rhyming technique to provide the discourse to the tone of the poem. Enhancing the tone to be upbeat and stay positive. He also comments on the half-rhymes of dizzy and easy in the first lines. Saying they give a rather optimistic feeling to the reader. Also commenting on the half-comedy of the step the father missed due to intoxication.
Tension arouses in Janssen’s mind when a series of words begin are being noticed obtaining to the word “death”. All the negative adjectives used for describing how the boy was feeling and the details of the father. These phrases can be adjacent to the father being abusive towards the son. The interpretation of way the words are placed and



Cited: Fong, Bobby. College Literature. 1st ed. Vol. 17. N.p.: College Literature, 1990. Print.pp. 79-82 Janssen, Ronald R. Explicator; Winter 86. 2nd ed. Vol. 44. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.p43, 2p MacMahan, Elizabeth, Susan X. Day, and Robert Funk. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011. Print. Richardson, Brian. “The Other Reader’s Response: On Multiple, Divided, and Oppositional Audiences.” Criticism 39.1 (1997): 31-53. Proquest. Web. 29 Apr. 2013 Turpin, Jeff P., and Robert W. Fuhrman. “Adaptive and Maladaptive Poetry: In Path, Roethke, Kunitz, and Moraga.” Style 46.3 (2012): 479,499,501,503,506-507. Proquest. Web. 29 Apr, 2013

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