Essay on Dancing around the Truth of My Papa’s Waltz

934 Words 4 Pages
The poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, is about a boy reminiscing about an incidence with his father. From the beginning, this poem states the conflict between a father and son involved in a rambunctious dance, but as it continues, the story suggests the dance may actually be a physical altercation. Within the line, “Such waltzing was not easy,” is the proposal this is not a singular incident, but rather a routine ritual between the boy and his father (Line 4). The speaker is an adult recollecting, to himself as the audience, a childhood memory of an incident with his father. As the poem opens, the child recalls his father engaging in act of the drinking whiskey to the extent that the fumes of his breath made him dizzy or …show more content…
The speaker never states with any clarity whether the memory of this story is a pleasant experience. Though the author uses “Papa” within the title as a term of affection, the speaker may well be mourning the loss of his father and venting while recalling this particular event in his past. The body of the poem has four stanzas and each stanza is written in a quatrain configuration. The rhyme structure within the poem combines both exact and slant rhymes, but has no specific organization of how they are arranged within each stanza. The poem is written in a simplistic Abba arrangement, while the rhythm and meter throughout most of the poem is in an iambic trimeter. The typical music of a waltz is played in a ¾ time signature similar to the rhythmic pattern within the poem; however while playing music for a waltz, the accent or stress is on the first note. In iambic trimeter, the stress is on the third syllable. The exceptions to this pattern are, “The hand that held my wrist,” written in iambic dimeter and “You beat time on my head,” written in trochee monometer (9, 13). The words “hand” and “You” are stressed within the first line of the third and fourth stanzas indicate who the speaker is talking to, emphasizing an accusation towards his father. Within the first line of the first stanza, “The whiskey on your breath,” indicates through the speaker an olfactory image of the father being a