Comparing And Contrasting Theodore Roethke's My Papa's Waltz And Robert Hayden's Those Winter Sundays

1447 words - 6 pages

The events of our childhood and interactions with our parents is an outline of our views as parents ourselves. Although Robert Hayden’s relationship with his father differentiates from the relationship of Theodore Roethke and his father, they are both pondering back to their childhood and expressing the events in a poem. “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those winter Sundays” provide the reader with an image of a childhood event which states how fathers are being viewed by their children. These poems reflect upon the relationship of the father and child when the child was a youth. Both Roethke and Hayden both indicate that their fathers weren’t perfect although they look back admiringly at their fathers’ actions. To most individuals, a father is a man that spends time with and takes care of them which gains him love and respect. An episode of Roethke’s childhood is illustrated in “My Papa’s Waltz”. In “My Papa’s Waltz”, the father comes home showing signs of alcohol and then begins waltzing with his son. Roethke states that the father’s hands are “battered on one knuckle”. The mother was so upset about the dancing that she did nothing other than frown. At the end of the day, the father waltzed the son to bed. “Those Winter Sundays” is based on a regular Sunday morning. The father rises early to wake his family and warm the house. To warm the house, he goes out in the cold and splits wood to start a fire. This is a poem about an older boy looking back to his childhood and regretting that “No one ever thanked him.” In Those Winter Sundays'; by Robert Hayden, the poet also relinquishes on a regular occurrence in his childhood. On Sunday mornings, just as any other morning, his father rises early and puts on his clothes in the cold darkness. He then goes out in the cold and splits fire wood with which he uses to start a fire in the house. After the entire house is warm he calls the rest of his family out of bed.
Roethke and Hayden express their visions of the role of the father in two poems that are unique but with a comparable idea.
Although Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” has no rhyme or rhythm, it is a short, beautiful, clear and powerful poem that defines unspoken love between a father and the son. In this poem, Hayden sets an atmosphere that is full of regret. The son is the participant narrator. He speaks to the audience from the present about his childhood and realizes that he was blinded to his father’s life. The father got up early on Sunday mornings to warm the big house. But, no one had thanked the father for doing this. The first stanza states the work that the father does. The “cracked hands” are a symbol of hard work, but it can also be seen as a symbol of love. We can assume that the speaker is now grown and realizes that his father’s actions was an expression of fatherly love. So, the speaker is a round character. The cold and miserable weather also has a huge connection to the characters as well as the poem itself. The...

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