Critical Appreciation Of My Papa’s Waltz

862 words - 3 pages

My Papa's WaltzI believe Theodore Roethke's poem, "My Papa's Waltz," written in 1948, carries a melancholic, resentful tone. In the poem, the speaker uses a metaphor to compare being beaten to a waltz. This is ironic since a waltz is a graceful, elegant dance. While I understand that others may perceive the poem as a boy playing with his drunken father, I think there is enough evidence in the poem to convince me that the speaker is painfully looking back on his childhood. The poem describes a father, perhaps just coming home, with whiskey on his breath. We know that the father is indeed drunk when the speaker states that the smell of whiskey on his father's breath is so strong that it makes him feel dizzy. The 3rd and 4th lines state: "But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy." I believe that this describes the boy being beaten. "Hung on" may be taken literally or metaphorically. For example, the boy could actually be holding on to his father or he could be being beaten by his father but the boy still seeks love from him. The second stanza describes his mother's disposition. She is not pleased about what is taking place as kitchen utensils are falling out of their designated place. I have never heard of a father playing so rough with his son that things actually started to fall from shelves; this further convinces me that the speaker is a victim of abuse and is looking back on his father resentfully.The third stanza describes how the boy was hurt. He explains how his father held his wrist, this can be taken as a threat, and it definitely carries a negative connotation. The speaker also states, "At every step you missed, my right ear scraped a buckle." I think that the way the situation is described sounds too rough to just be play. Death, romped, battered, scraped, and beat are all words that can be found in "My Papa's Waltz." These words carry a negative connation and convince the reader that the poem is about child abuse. I think the speaker of the poem carries a melancholic and resentful tone as he is pondering painful memories of his childhood. I also believe that in a way he misses his father or is still seeking a form of love or acceptance from him. I also believe that the way one interprets such a poem depends on the opinions that have been formed from their own previous experiences in life. The speaker carefully orders his images to juxtapose frightening mages...

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