My Papa's Walt Essay

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Poetic Devices in “My Papa’s Waltz” Theodore Roethke’s Poem “My Papa’s Waltz” (rpt. In Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, 9th ed. [Boston: Bedford, 2011] 967) can be interpreted as more than just a dance around the room. The scene suggests a recollection of a son’s remembrance of a time when his father who has had something to drink and is in an inebriated state and scoops him up to dance, knocking over pans. He is dancing and twirling his small son who seems both excited and fearful at the same time. The Mother seems annoyed that she will have to be the one who cleans the mess that is being made. The ending of the dance leaves you wondering “Is this more than a dance?” Roethke uses Imagery, Rhyme, and Similes to pull you into the scene of “My Papa’s Waltz.” Initially, we see the use of Imagery of Olfactory when Roethke states “The Whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy;” you immediately relate to the father being drunk, and can almost smell the alcohol. The rest of the Imagery In the poem is visual; he paints the picture of the dance with the Mother standing by with a frown and the Dad’s holding the small little boy tightly by the wrist. “The hand that held my wrist was battered on one knuckle” can give the image that maybe the father is forcing the boy to dance with him. The lines “At every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle” and “You beat time on my head with a palm caked hard by dirt” show kinesthetic imagery that shows movement and a response to the pain that the pressed buckle on the belt is causing the boy. The Imagery also paints the picture of the “Waltz” that is taking place in this room, with things being knocked around and over and a disapproving frown from the mother. The description of the movement of the dance does not paint the picture of a waltz which is thought to be a dance that is flowing,

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