Summary Of My Papa's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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“My Papa’s Waltz” written by Theodore Roethke in 1942 is a bottomless dark poem in which the narrator starts off by stating “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy.” Leaving the daunting image in the poem of the boy’s father being a heavy drinker, while reminiscing through his childhood bringing back the memories of how their relationship transpired. Roethke uses assonance, rhyme schemes and a variety of different themes to convey his love for his father even through his faults. Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1908 he was only fourteen years old when he lost his father due to cancer. He idolized him following him everywhere and anywhere, because he was his hero. Roethke spent a lot of his younger days working in a greenhouse with his father they practically lived there considering all the hours they spent together there. “My Papa’s Waltz” is just one of the many poems that the greenhouse is reflected in his writing. From the beginning of this poem in the first two lines presented in the introduction Roethke leaves us with the connotation of his father has been drinking whiskey and it has not been light drinking. He has drank so much that it has stained his breath to the point where it could make a young boy dizzy as it does with his son. By saying his son hangs on to him like death shows us that he has become dizzy by his breath and using the word death shows it is not one of the better memories he has in the vault of their relationship.

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