The Mood Of My Papa's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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The poem My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke, came from a collection of poems titled The Lost Son. All of these poems portray Roethke as a child torn between admiration of his father and disgust for his father’s actions. This particular poem reflects on the struggles Roethke endured in his childhood. When reading My Papa’s Waltz, the reader sees the father’s behavior through Roethke’s childhood memory. Rhyme, rhythm, irony, paradox and word choice are all effects that Roethke uses to convey his feelings towards his father. Waltzing is a slow and easy dance usually done in a formal situation. However, in this poem, Roethke is dancing with a drunk father. An almost comical visual rather than a formal visual depicted through irony of situation. In this situation, Roethke says that “such waltzing was not easy”(4) and that they “romped”(5) around. Both of these actions are not associated with waltzing. Through this irony, the reader can understand that this situation was possibly confusing for Roethke to behold as a child. Rhythm of this poem was used in a very tactful way. Waltzes are danced in threes, like One two three, so Roethke used Triple Meter in his poem to mimic this movement. When Roethke begins the poem, it starts with a dactylic meter, but occasional lines end with a single pyrrhic beat “to slightly throw off …show more content…

While his father was drunk, it seems like Roethke enjoyed experiences like “romp[ing]”(5) around the house with his father. When it was late at night, his father would still “waltz [him] off to bed”(15) like any father, and Roethke would still “cling to [his] shirt”(16) like any son wanting their father around. However these images are paradoxical to the words used to describe his father’s abuse and control. This confusion between admiration and disgust are understandable when linked to Roethke’s history of manic

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