My Papa's Waltz

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Nick Larsen English 100 Jaime Speed 9 October, 2012 “My Papa’s Waltz” Poetry can be anywhere from a couple lines to hundreds, but no matter how many lines, they can all create images in our minds; from the most beautiful sunset across the horizon to a desolate landscape filled with hatred. They make us happy and they make us sad, or they can lead us to believe we are helping our grandma make an apple pie as the aroma of the warm apples drifts by our noses. There is an array of emotions and senses people get from reading poetry, but every poem is perceived differently by others. Some may say a poem is about a loving relationship while others will say it is about an abusive one. In Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”, this is exactly the case. A boy and his father share a very loving memory of dancing a drunken waltz. The boy looks past the fact that his father is drunk because he loves him very much. The imagery that Roethke uses lets the reader transport to the kitchen where the boy and his father are dancing. Roethke’s work plants very vivid images in his reader’s mind that paint a very clear image of the boy and his drunken father. The readers can almost smell the whisky on the father’s breath; it is as if they are right there with him. The imagery that Roethke uses creates a very loving atmosphere, but at the same time the reader can feel that there is a strain between the family. In the line “But I hung on like death” (3) it is immediately perceived to have a negative connotation. But looking closer it becomes very clear that it is the complete opposite. The boy is not holding on for his life like it is first assumed, but rather he is holding on like “death” so that this moment with his dad will never end because this is the first time he has ever had this kind of affection from his father. This is clearly a poem of the love that the boy and his father share.
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