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My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke

The poem is inspired by a young child's outlook on life. The reader gets a sense of both risk and humor from the poem. A dance is included in the poem that has a normal feel, is lilting, and is almost lighthearted. Despite the emotions expressed in the poem, the child's tone is fearful of the father's power. He says he can detect the odor of alcohol on his breath. The poem tends to contradict the reader's feelings in this sense, as such feelings are not optimistic (Brittan 43). While the reader expects the act of the father dancing with his son to be an uplifting experience, the child's tone indicates that the child is sad throughout. Chose

Theodore has used the presence of the child's mother with the aim of providing comparisons with the father. Her appearance in the poem is critical, as it tends to provide contrast to the near out of control and powerful father (Brittan 47). In addition, the reader gets the impression that there is a hint of domestic chaos between the three characters; the father, mother and the son. For this reason, the reader is compelled to try to figure out whether such domestic chaos is a bad or good thing. In this regard, it is challenging to establish whether one gets a feeling of happiness or fear for both the mother and child (Mellor 22).

One could argue that a carefree and playful sort of atmosphere characterizes the poem. This is evidenced by the fact that the author whereby he portrays the child dancing with his father just before bedtimes illustrates the child. The author has utilized such words as waltzed as well as romped with the aim of adding a sense of informality in the poem (Mellor 23). For this reason, such words are frequently used to attract a feeling happiness and joy. However, it might not be the case when one compares the tone used in the rest of the poem. Additionally, the contrasting expression of the mother is apparent when the author uses such words such as unfrown and countenance that is characterized by vowel sounds that are long and rounded (Mellow 29).

In instances where consonants match, the author has used words such as knuckle and buckle, breath and death, shelf and itself as well as short and dirt. To the reader, such words tend to bring to home the idea of the boy's seriousness regarding his current situation. This is because his father waltzes him around the house. Buckle and knuckle are seen to be aggressive and hard words while death and breath seem to suggest a feeling of beginning and end of life. On the other hand, shirt and dirt convey a feeling of work coupled with a sense of masculinity.

Lastly, the poem is overly characterized by full and regular rhyme scheme, with the exemption of the first stanza. In this regard, words such as dizzy did not rhyme fully with words such as easy. This is mainly because to the reader it seems like a half or slant sort of rhyme due to the fact it is sound the same at the end of the syllables. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate whether such a rhyme helps author's poem. In essence, the poem revolves around dance and thus, has a regular patterned rhythm. For instance, traditionally, the waltz is seen as the most rhythmical form of dance globally. In order, to fix such kind of fixed pattern of movement, the author has used words such as easy and dizzy to help fix the idea to the reader.

Works Cited
Brittan, Simon. Poetry, Symbol, and Allegory: Interpreting Metaphorical Language from Plato to the Present. U of Virginia P, 2003.
Mellor, Scott A. Analyzing Ten Poems from the Poetic Edda: Oral Formula and Mythic Patterns. The Edwin Mellen P, 2008.

September 01, 2021

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