“My Papa’s Waltz”

1568 WordsOct 31, 20117 Pages
For readers, it is always controversial to determine what Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” conveys. Readers either interpret the poem as telling the happy memory of a little boy playing with his father or as describing a scene of child abuse. From my point of view, the poem is more likely to be about the enjoyable time between the father and the son and I would explain this by discussing on the word choice, tone and rhythm of the poem. Before analyzing, the first thing to look at is the background of the poet, Theodore Roethke. Roethke’s father died of cancer when he was fifteen (Wikipedia). It is then assumable that the waltz of Roethke and his father is one of the few memories involving his father as he passed away so early.…show more content…
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary (1510), “romp” has the meaning of “to play in a happy and noisy way”. The word, in fact, does not carry negative meanings. Instead, it draws a vivid picture of the father and son playing without care, without worries of messing the home. The frowning mother described further explains this. Normally, though it is a kind of stereotyping, and with a note that the poet was born in 1908, kitchen is the place where women, being housewives, work and it is the place they spend most of their time in, especially in the time of 1910s. The women must keep, as one of their duties, their home neat and tidy. It is then understandable that why the mother frowned seeing the father and son playing so crazily that they even went into the kitchen, where not supposed to be a place to play in, and mess round. The mother just grew angry seeing what she had tidied up being messed up again, causing endless works to do, but was able to stop them. Other than that, in the second stanza, the poet wrote “until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf”. The word “slid” is used rather than “dropped” or “fell”, which both has similar meaning to “slid” when portraying the falling motion of the pans. It is believed that the poet has a special reason in choosing this word. “Slid” implies a smooth, continuous, light and relatively slow movement while “dropped” and “fell” are more likely
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