World Literature I
January 15, 2009
“Those Winter Sundays” and “My Papa’s Waltz”
The two poems, “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden and “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, seem to have a very similar theme. Both of them tell a story, from an inside point of view, of a child who is looking back on the lives of their father’s by recalling and telling of certain events that occurred in their past. In “Those Winter Sundays” the narrator, obviously a female, “and slowly I would rise and dress” (line 8), looks back on how her father sacrificed everything for the family and never seemed to be fully appreciated “….No one ever thanked him” (5). In “My Papa’s Waltz” the narrator is a boy “Could make a small boy dizzy” (line 2), looking back at a time where he played joyfully with his father. In “My Papa’s Waltz” the narrator recalls the alcoholism of his father, by using certain references throughout the poem such as “the whiskey on your breath” (1), and “the hand that held my wrist was battered on one knuckle” (9-10) possibly suggesting that the father may also have an anger problem. However, from reading this poem the reader doesn’t get the sense that the son was scared of his father or any indication the fathers’ anger was directed toward the little boy. The narrator could be telling the story in a way to describe and remember a comical and fun time he had with his father when he was young, despite some of the unpleasant memories of his father drinking. The narrator describes “waltzing” with his father in the family kitchen until pans slide from the kitchen shelf” (5-6) and “Still clinging to your shirt” (16). This may indicate how a young boy was dependent on his father, or maybe the boy just didn’t want to stop playing with his father. The narrator also recalls how his “mothers countenance could not unfrown itself” (7-8), meaning his mother didn’t find this “waltzing” to be too amusing. In the line “”But I hung...
Cited: Hayden, Robert “Those Winter Sundays” Literature and the Writing Process. Fifth edition, eds. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X. Day and Robert Funk. Ney Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999. 596.
Roethke, Theodore “My Papa’s Waltz.” Lives through Literature. Third edition, eds. Helane Levine Keating and Water Levy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001. 102.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document