“Roethke was a great poet, the successor to Frost and Stevens in modern American poetry, and it is the measure of his greatness that his work repays detailed examination” (Parini 1). Theodore Roethke was a romantic who wrote in a variety of styles throughout his long successful career. However, it was not the form of his verse that was important, but the message being delivered and the overall theme of the work. Roethke was a deep thinker and often pondered about and reflected on his life. This introspection was the topic of much of his poetry. His analysis of his self and his emotional experiences are often expressed in his verse. According to Ralph J. Mills Jr., “this self interest was the primary matter of …show more content…
Roethke married Beatrice O’Connell, a former student at Bennington College, in 1953. Roethke published many volumes of poetry throughout his career. His first volume, Open House, published in 1941, was filled with images of growth and decay and had short unrhymed verses (Encarta). According to Allan Seager, “most of the reviews were good and those that contained adverse criticisms tacitly acknowledged that it was the work of a genuine poet and not a beginner” (Contemporary Authors 476). His next two volumes, The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948) and Praise to the End! (1951) were expressions of his explorations of his interior self. After reading The Lost Son and Other Poems, Richard Blessing claimed “To my mind, the transformation of Theodore Roethke from a poet of lyric resourcefulness, technical proficiency, and ordered sensibility to a poet of indomitable creativeness and audacity, difficult, heroic, moving, and profoundly disquieting is one of the most remarkable in American history” (Contemporary Authors 478). Roethke received a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Waking. Words for the Wind (1958) won both the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize. The Far Field, which was published posthumously in 1964, won the National Book Award for
Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan on May 25, 1908 to Otto Roethke and Helen Huebner. Along with uncle, his mother and father owned a local greenhouse, where Roethke spent a lot of his childhood days working and playing. He referred to the greenhouse as “my symbol for the whole of life, a womb, a heaven-on-earth” ( ). The greenhouse played a huge role in his poetry. Roethke implies that only after death of the self can people come to realize the true purpose of life, love. Roethke always had stored in the back of his mind “the idea that personal selves were not the focus of time on earth”( ). Therefore, people must experience the death of their selves before they can truly live.
“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke sparks differing opinions within the minds of many. Roethke was influenced greatly by his experiences as a young boy. For instance, his uncle and father both died when he was the age of fourteen. “My Papa’s Waltz” is written in remembrance of his father after this dreadful occurrence. The author’s use of imagery brings light to the his adoration for his father. Notably, his way of stringing together ideas reinforces the fond memories they shared. Roethke’s captivating choice of words supports his purpose to make known the love he has for this man. While the subject of “My Papa’s Waltz” has spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students alike, the imagery, syntax, and diction of the poem clearly support the interpretation that Theodore Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to bring attention to the loving relationship he had with his father.
The writer is describing that even when he cannot physically endure the smell of his father's liquor, he is still fastened to him no matter the obstacle. After all, Roethke is comparing the physical abuse to an elegant dance: the waltz. On a different note, it is vital to identify the importance the titles play in the poems.
Roethke's usage of poetic devices place emphasis on the conditions in which the speaker experiences as a young child. Although the whiskey on the father of the speaker's breath is very strong, the speaker continuously " . . .hung on like death" (3) and candidly states that "Such waltzing was not easy" (4). The usage of simile by comparing the speaker's clinging of his father's shirt to death places emphasis on the feelings and emotions that are present in the household. Knowing that his " . . . mother's countenance could not unfrown itself" is an example of imagery that further adds to the turmoil and negative events that exist in the speaker's home by allowing readers to visualize the facial expressions that are present (7-8). Not only do the poetic devices contribute to the meaning of the poem, but it also contributes to the tone as well.
He thought poetry was an art of association, it inspires readers' imagination with symbolism rather than direct imitation of life, and hold the reader's feelings and arouse them to act with passion. His style throughout the 19th century formed the mainstream of American poetry”(1).
In each of these poems, the narrators did share some of the same attitudes towards their fathers. Roethke shows his father may not have been around as much as he should have been. His father would drink his life away and end up being a completely
In comparing and contrasting the poems, "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke and "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence, the reader could also compare and contrast the childhood lives of the poets themselves. Roethke's father, Otto Roethke, was a drunk and a figure of terror to his son (Seager 26). His mother was an angry woman and Theodore was a desperate child consistently in the middle of his parent's opposition (Seager 28). D.H. Lawrence's father was a drunk, almost illiterate miner (Squires and Talbot 34). His mother; however, was educated, refined, and pious, ruling the lives of her sons (Squires and Talbot 42). Reviewing the form, tone, and imagery of both poems, the attitude of the boy towards his father in Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" allows
Diction is arguably the most important literary device carried throughout the duration of this poem. Many readers were disoriented by the use of Roethke’s word choice, yet it is arguably the most indisputable piece of evidence used to portray the background of abuse in the author’s poem. Roethke uses words that carry negative connotations such as: beat, battered, death, and more.
After graduating from Vassar, Bishop lived in New York City, and spent time traveling the world. However, during this period Bishop struggled with physical and mental illness, as well as immense loneliness throughout her adult years. In 1938, Bishop moved from Manhattan to Key West, where many of her poems from her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, North & South, were collected (Kalstone 18). “The Man-Moth,” “The Weed,” “Love Lies Sleeping,” “Roosters,” and “Paris, 7 A.M.” all emerge in this collection.
As I mentioned earlier as a child Theodore Roethke spent a lot of his time in the greenhouse his father and uncle owned. He observed nature and its true beauty in unique ways. The years he spent in that greenhouse truly helped him become successful in his writing career. A good number of his most famous works, as well as his less notable works reference nature in some way. I will discuss some of these poems showing the references to nature and repeated themes. Roethke tends to relate life and death to nature using imagery and detailed descriptions to captivate the readers.
“Wish for a Young Wife”, by Theodore Roethke, may seem to be more than just a simple epithalamium, for the way the poet presents his writing compels the reader to question his true intentions. Nevertheless, although it is easy for the reader to trip down this path, a closer reading, in which one pays particular attention to aspects such the poem's imagery, rhyme scheme, meter, and parallelism, allows them to acknowledge that as the poet appreciates his wife and elaborates on what he wants for her, it is in fact the ambiguity of the poem that doubles the effect of his sincerity and love for his young wife.
Second, Roethke exposes remarkable themes in his poem “My Papa’s Waltz”. The central point in this poem is alcoholism. The persona is taking about his alcoholic father. The father in this poem
American poet, author, and teacher, Theodore Roethke in his ambiguous poem, “My Papa’s Waltz,” uses a form of bewildered nostalgia to remember his father and the relationship they had, good or bad. Many readers believe that this poem is based on severe abuse from a drunken father and a frightened mother. On the other hand, others believe that this poem is based on nostalgic memories of a son who remembers the positive and happy memories he had with his father who he lost too soon. There are numerous ideas that support and refute these claims, but after extensive research of Roethke and understanding the context of the poem, a conclusion that fuses both of these points of view is created. While the subject of “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke has created purposeful ambiguity and spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students alike, the context, imagery, and diction of the poem clearly support the interpretation that Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to reflect fondly on his childhood experiences with his father as an adult and in doing so discovers from his mature perspective that not all was as lovely as it appeared to him when he was a child.
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
“In a Dark time” by Theodore Roethke gives a retrospect into the inner turmoil’s of finding oneself through a haze of doubts in till reaching a moment of clarity. Each section of the poem describes a different emotion, or inner thought that spirals from fear of death, to emotions of desire. The use of imagery between nature and uncertainties of the narrator give a glimpse into Roethke’s own mind during the time he wrote this poem. Without hundreds of pages Roethke created a poem that connects readers to their own self-doubts and struggles of finding ones way again.