The strongest literary device Roethke uses to convey the speaker’s relationship with his father is symbolism. The waltz symbolizes the way they interact when his father comes home drunk. The waltz also serves as an extended metaphor for the relationship the speaker has with his father, representing the difficult and scary bond the two have. When the speaker says “We romped until the pans... Slid from the kitchen shelf...” on lines six and seven, it becomes clear that this is not an ordinary dance, and that the father was abusing his son. On line three the speaker says “But I hung on like death”, this presents a scary and dangerous tone. He holds on to his father, like death, to represent that he isn’t going anywhere, similar to how death is inevitable, the father will not be able to get rid of his son. The speaker continues to hold on to his father, the audience can tell that although he is being hurt and he is scared, he still values his dad.
Could make a small boy dizzy” (Lines 1-2). Meaning The father has been drinking, and not just a little. He's so intoxicated that even the smell of his breath could make a small boy, like his son, feel a bit woozy. This gives a first impression of a father being intoxicated who has the ability to harm the child. For most it is not a great situation when a drunken adult presents himself to a child. This poem could be seen as a depiction of a young boy’s experience of abuse from his father. “But I hang on like death” seems to show a child’s frightful feeling from having to face a drunken father. The image in my head here is that of the father and his child waltzing around the kitchen with the boy having to hold on like death. The word death could have been intended to emphasize the helplessness of the child against his drunken
However, parts of this poem show the fear the son has for his father. "We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf" describes that they are having fun as they romped around the house even though they are being wreck less. Roethke describes the caring nature of his father for his son when he said, "The hand that held my wrist”. The holding hand symbolizes the close relationship that they had. This contrasts with the beginning of the poems first lines; "[t]he wiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy.” This gives an impression of a father being drunk who has the ability to hurt the child. This ingrains the fear into the child.
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.
These three lines are perfect examples of the imagery within the poem because they contain an image of a river with its small peeks and waves trembling and glistening in the afternoon sun. All the while it equates the natural beauty of the river to the beauty that the young man sees in the youthful maiden.
With the use of imagery, the poet communicates to the reader the emotional bond between the father and his son. In the first stanza of the poem, the he illustrates a clear picture between the son and the father. "The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy But I hung on like death Such waltzing was not easy." the poet is saying that the father may not be the best father in the world with his breath smelling like whiskey, but despite that, the son hangs on like death. The simile the poet
In the poem "My Papa's Waltz" written by Theodore Roethke, the interpretation of the poem depends on the readers`perspective. Some people think that this poem is one of a happy exchange between a father and son. Other people believe that this poem has a hidden message of parental abuse. In my point of view, the imagery and language, the symbolism, and tone in the poem gave me the impression of the love between the father and son, not of an abusive relationship.
Before we can be able to successfully compare these two poems, we must first be able to completely understand each of the texts on their own. We will start off with Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”. In this poem, there is a young boy who claims to be doing a “waltz” with his father, however it is a little more aggressive than that. Although, despite the aggressiveness displayed by the father, the reader can sense that the boy does not look at this experience as a
The diction within the poem also captures the bonding experience. Roethke's word selection uniquely relates the event to a dance making the poem pleasantly fun. The overall effect of words such as "dizzy," (2) "waltzing,"(4) and "beat"(13) turn the lines of poetry into a merry shuffle between the father and son. Words such as "step"(11) and "waltzed"(15) fully invoke
In “My Papa’s Waltz” there is ambiguity in the poem on if Roethke is hating his father or loving every moment with him. As William Barillas states in the article “Meter in Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,”’ “Auditory elements complement and reinforce meaning and tone.” Roethke does this on purpose. He wants the reader to glide through the poem, as a person would if they were waltzing, but just like in the dance, there is a short pause. Roethke does this to
The main form of syntax that Roethke uses is rhyme scheme. “My Papa’s Waltz” contains a simple ABAB rhyme scheme, in which many slant rhymes are used; further, this makes the poem sound similar to the way a song would. Notably, waltzes are guided dances… just as the father in “My Papa’s Waltz,” guided his son through life. Yet, it is also important to note that waltzes are meant to be simple, swift, and loving. Although waltzes are described as these things, Roethke’s childhood is described as a waltz gone wrong. He makes it obvious he faces abuse and the effects of alcoholism in his early life. As stated, the rhyme scheme used by Roethke helps develop the true main idea of this poem by shaping it as it were a song, more specifically a waltz. If the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz,” was a song, it would be a pessimistic and depressing one. Clearly, Roethke’s unfortunate experiences portrayed by using syntax make us one step closer to discovery the real purpose of the poem. In short, the syntax of this story shapes its meaning through rhyme scheme.
The tone of "My Papa's Waltz" differs from the tone in "Piano." The ironic tone of the first poem is one of a young man looking back in fear of his father. "But I hung on like death.../The hand that held my wrist.../You beat time on my head..." (3-13). The reader senses a painful scene, which the father appears to hurt and demean his son. On the other hand, the tone of "Piano" is more melancholy. "In spite of myself.../Betrays me back.../To the old Sunday evenings at home..." (5-7). The reader can feel the lyrical and longing tone in the narrator's description of a man who wishes he could go back in time to his childhood where he listened happily to the sounds of the family piano. Roethke's tone towards his father is reflected in the anger and resentment coming from the boy to his father in his poem, while Lawrence's tone towards his childhood memories reflect a longing to return to the love and happiness of his youth. Both poets use their poem's tone to create specific imagery solidifying the reader's perception of each boy's state of mind.
Poetry is made to express the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of the poet. The reader can interpret the poem however they see fit. Critics are undecided about the theme of Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz." Some people believe that the poem is one of a happy exchange between a father and son. The more convincing interpretation is that it has a hidden message of parental abuse. Careful analysis of the keywords and each individual stanza back up this theory of child abuse by a violent and drunken father.
. . should burn and rave at the close of day”(2). This means that old men should fight when they are dying and their age should not prevent them from resisting death. Another example of personification in the poem is “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay”(8). This line personifies the men’s frail deeds by saying that they could have danced. This means that the potential actions of the men could have flourished and contributed greatly to their lives. The metaphor “. . . words had forked no lightning. . .”(5) is about how the men had done nothing significant with their lives. They had not achieved anything great or caused a major change. The simile “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” is about how even grave and serious men will fight against death for as long as they can. Another notable example of figurative language within the poem is “. . . blinding sight”(13). This oxymoron details how the men can see very well and it is very obvious to them that they will die soon, but they know that they can control how they will leave this world. There is an abundance of imagery within this poem, a few examples of which are “. . . danced in a green bay”(8), and “. . . caught and sang the sun in flight”(10) . These examples of imagery are both appealing to the sense of sight by using descriptive words such as “Green” and “danced” in the first example and words such as “caught” and “flight” among others. The second example also appeals to the sense of sound by