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Analysis Of My Papa's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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My Papa’s Waltz, written by Theodore Roethke, is a poem about a child and his father. Theodore’s poems are greatly influenced by his father’s life and his childhood experiences with him. His father died of cancer and his uncle committed suicide when he was only thirteen. Theodore was born in Saginaw, Michigan, where most of his poems take place in his father’s greenhouse. He attended the University of Michigan, Harvard, and taught at other universities. Later he started his poetry residency at University of Washington in 1948. He won several prizes for many of his poems and books. In My Papa’s Waltz, Theodore Roethke writes about his father’s illness and one of his most memorable last moments with him. Whiskey is the main focus of the first stanza in this poem. It is made to seem as if it the father is a drunkard, because of how his breath is so strong that it “could make a small boy dizzy,” but the father is drinking for his illness. Whiskey is often referred to as a negative term or triggers the thought of abuse, but just because a person drinks whiskey it does not mean they are a violent person. Whiskey can be used to cure or relieve colds and the father could be drinking to relieve himself of the pain from his sickness, not knowing it is cancer he is dealing with. In the first stanza, third line the author mentions the word “death” by saying “but I hung on like death,” which can be seen as the boy is hanging on like death is hanging onto his father’s life. The father
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