'My Papa's Waltz' by Theodore Roethke.

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The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother 's countenance Could not unfrown itself. The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt The poem, "My Papa 's Waltz", written by Theodore Roethke, is written in such a way that creates many debate and contestation over the intended message and tone. Many interpret see, the poem as joyous and loving; others, including myself, view it with disgust and pity. The…show more content…
We can clearly imagine a large dirty drunk man stumbling into the house, and abusing his tiny helpless child. Many times the father misses the boy but occasionally is successful. "At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle." The tone is rather ironic for a few reasons. Firstly, the use of the word "waltz" in the title as well as in the poem demonstrates this. As noted before, the word "waltz" contains a positive signification. However, the actual message of the poem is very disapproving and negative. The attitude of the boy is very ironic because he is comparing his horrible childhood experiences to a "waltz". The poem is also ironic because the rhyming pattern of the poem creates a cheerful tone and melody. As we can see, Roethke 's poem is ambiguous in meaning. However, there is many elements supporting the idea that the poem imply an abusive alcoholic father and his dysfunctional relationship with his son. The use of poetic language and style help convey the complex meaning of the poem. In addition, the poem is an excellent example of irony. The poem appears to be written by the boy in the story when he is an adult. Apparently, the man realizes that his father 's irresponsible actions were his ways of actually demonstrating his true affections towards
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