Waltzing with Dad

My Papa's Waltz - Poem by Theodore Roethke
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His father was waltzing him off to bed yet he was going along with the act. With the wording, the son seems to be remembering but in a detached sense and with a sense of guilt. Roethke uses the imagery of a dance to describe the beatings that a small boy, most likely the author receives at the hands of his drunken father. When I read the poem I pictured a greasy, balding man wearing a stained white T shirt tucked into denim pants thrashing a young boy around the kitchen while the mother watches helpless from the next room, unable to do anything lest she be beat herself.

Right away we learn just what state the father is in. He is quite drunk. As he is beaten, the boy hangs on to his father, hoping to avoid wild swings. He hangs on like death. I'm not quite sure what this line means, but it does give a very dark and deadly tone to the readers.

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We know that to make a wrong move could spell death for the boy. The fights were quite brutal and out of control.

waltzing with Daddy

The rooms themselves were destroyed. We can see these are more one sided bar room brawls than normal father to son punishments.

Theodore Roethke

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The mother is there, where the boy can see, but she is helpless. The father was not completely accurate, he misses in many of his swings. This accounts for the battered knuckle. Perhaps he hit a chair or wall of something else.

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The buckle may have been a belt buckle, attached to the belt that was being used to lash the boy. I think that the shirt means that in the course of the beating the boy tore his fathers shirt, or the boy is now unconscious or unwilling to let go of the shirt. This action of being thrust directly into the conflict of the poem has a great effect of internalizing the reader. The reader is compelled to join in the dangerous waltz between father and son and shares in the emotions of the speaker.

Another way Roethke draws the reader into the poem is though the use of rhyme and meter. This poem reads like a nursery rhyme and is an effective tool to keep the reader into the pace, to make the reader read the poem faster than they normally would. The nursery rhyme aspect makes us view the action from the eyes of the child.

My Papa’s Waltz Analysis

Although the message in the poem is deep and dark, the beat is upbeat and almost fun. Janet's book has been recommended as a good read. Waltzing With Dad A heartfelt true story of a northern girl who goes to school in the wintertime by dogsled. It is reported that many people read it over and over again.

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Going to school by dogsled in the wintertime. World War 11 Mental hospital, the birthing of animals and much more. Have a good day. Their patience goes a long way.

Analysis of the Poem "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke

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My Papa's Waltz. By Theodore Roethke. The whiskey on your breath. Could make a small boy dizzy;. But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. Format: Kindle Edition; File Size: KB; Print Length: pages; Page Numbers Source ISBN: ; Publisher: Janet r. Penner; Edition I edition (

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