Analysis Of My Papas Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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Roethke’s My Papas Waltz Many literary scholars, researchers and readers in general, driven by intrigue, have tried to dissect, analyze, and interpret the ambiguous meaning of Theodore Roethke’s poem, “My Papa’s Waltz.” Their explications however, result in ambivalent, and sometimes controversial views. Some critics argue that “My Papas Waltz,” portrays the physical violence inflicted by a father to his child. In a rejoinder, an equal number posit that, the poem vividly depicts a complex, but a loving relationship between a father and his son, through the child’s voice. The poem is considered to be an ode, to Theodore Roethke’s own father, Otto Roethke, whom he religiously admired and idolized. Otto Roethke was a Prussian immigrant, strong, …show more content…

“You beat time on my head, With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed, Still clinging to your shirt” (Lines 13-16). The line, “You beat time in my head,” (Line 13), may be misunderstood to indicate physical violence. However, because the waltz begins in a slow rhythm that gradually, increases in tempo, the boy is dizzy and breathless, and yet happy, by its end. Although exhausted the narrator still desires to continue prancing around with the father. Given the opportunity, he would gladly experience his childhood memories exactly the same – bruises, cuts and all. In the final analysis, most readers of this poem tend to deduce a dark theme of physical violence due to its tone, word choice and imagery. Nonetherless, Roethke balances positive and negative tones of the poem to give it a rich and ambiguous quality. The exceeding tendency to paint the picture of child abuse deprives it, of this quality. “My Papa’s Waltz,” illustrates a special and powerful moment, shared between a father and a son through a waltz. That moment, of engaging directly with the family’s figure of authority – his breath redolent of whisky, can be both frightening and exciting for a

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