MY PAPA’S WALTZ- THEODORE ROETHKE POEM ANALYSIS

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SPEAKER

In the second line, “Could make a small boy dizzy;” our speaking character is a young lad who is up late in the night and is still not satisfied with the idea of going to bed when his parents are still awake. Probably, he is forced to go to bed but gets to dance with his father just before he goes to sleep.

MEMORY OF THE NARRATOR

According to the narrator, this poem is two edged. It reflects both positive and negative memory of the narrator. This poem expresses the mind of a young boy who is used to his father’s drinking. The weird experience in drinking drives the father in to being rough on the lad as a matter of loss of control. Out of the innocence of the young boy, he still trusts and loves his father even when things get out of hand. The alcoholic breath from the father overcomes the young boy, as the boy holds to his father’s shirt. He is confused on how to deal with his father’s addiction. In a way the drunkenness of the father, the bad breath and the getting rough is sort of a negative memory to the narrator. The love, clinging to the father’s shirt and all the dancing reflects positive memories of the narrator.

EXPERIENCE

The statement “I hung on like death” brings out the message that for the child, the dance was kind of a fearful experience because of the missed steps that lead to the father’s hand hitting the lad. The father acted like a careless drunk.

It is not very clear on whoever started the dance. The whiskey on his father’s breath and the speed of the dance makes the speaker dizzy. The father keeps beating on the boy’s head with his rough hands and the same time his ear is getting scraped.

All this time, the boy is still nervous about getting his mother angry. The dad is rough on him but he still hangs and clings to himeven as he dances him to bed with the alcohol smells on his breath and no matter how rough he gets on him.

RELATIONSHIP OF FORM AND CONTENT TO THE POEM

The poem has a good utilization of form and content in conveying the message therein. The first stanza introduces us to the waltzing moment between thedrunken father and the young son. The son smells the strong whiskey breath in his father it “could make a small boy dizzy.”

The statement “Such waltzing was not easy,” becomes the first clue on the kid’s fright of the dance andon how the poem is going to sound. There are both positive and negative vibes in the second stanza. The use of the words “romped,” “ countenance” and “unfrown” shows that the child and the father are playing a lot causing pans to slide off the wall and thus making their mother angry.

The poem’s diction brings a picture to the reader that the speaker is an adult flashing back on their childhood days. The use of words like “waltzing” and the statement “hung on like death” brings past tense into the poem. The speaker also uses nursery rhyme, playground and dance to bring into context the children world which he was returning to by remembering these experiences. The “ed-at” rhyme in the last stanza as used by the speaker is well structured in bringing the poem to the intended meaning and sound.

THE AUTHOR’S READING

The poem as read by the author sounds very mature meaning he did not write the poem when he was a boy. It feels like he is regretful on some things like his father’s drinking and the sounds of his bad and good memories are heard in his reading of the poem.

THE VIDEO BY WILLIAM VAN FIELDS

The reading of the poem by Van Fields brings out a clear picture of reflection on what used to happen in those drunken waltzing days. According to his reading, there is a reflection of bad and good memories. If he was taken as the original narrator, whenever the pans slid off the wall, his mother was displeased and this appears as well on his face meaning that it also displeased him

WE REAL COOL – GWENDOLYN BROOKS

The Pool Players- Seven at the Golden Shovel

EXPERIENCES OF THE NARRATOR

The narrator is probably a teenager or a group of teenagers as from the statement “We left school.” From the narrator, skipping school appears to be a really cool thing because he talks about the things he does after skipping school. It sounds rebellious. The language used shows that the narrator is not very educated and lacks maturity. The poem gives the reader an impression that the school skippers are actually a group of teens and brings full attention of whatever they are doing.

The poem lists the illegal activities the lads involve themselves in. “We lurk late”tells of an illegal activity performed in the dark late in the night. “We strike straight” may be used to describe crimes such as robbery, murder or rape done correctly and escaping prosecution. “We sing sin” shows that these guys are happy of the wrongs they do which look like they make them feel big and having achieved. “We thin gin” is a statement showing how the lads water down the gin so they can make more money. Most probably, this happens at the Golden shovel.

FORM AND CONTENT

The poem in itself is a lyrical poem with a very musical rhyme scheme. Reading out this poem makes it appear like a song due to the rhyme scheme and choice of words. The choice of slang in this poem makes it have a jazzy feel. The diction and rhythm of the poem makes it appear that the activities of the lads are undesirable. The choice of words portrays some pride in being out of reach of the law and paints a picture of certain weakness in the predominant society in terms of morals. In the last line of the poem “We die soon” the tone dramatically changes. In the first place the narrator shows the amount of fulfillment they have in their kind of life. Yet the last line shows how much uncertainty they have in living long in their wrongs.

EXPERIENCE AND INNOCENCE

The activities these lads participate in as per the poem, lead to moral degradation and corruption of innocence. The seven teenagers who act like a gang in carrying out their acts have become corrupted in terms of morals. Though they feel kind of complete in doing the things they do, they are still aware of possible chances of death and are not happy about it“We die soon”. Yet the activities they carry out have become so addictive that they feel so cool about it. This shows that their experiences have led them to a kind of a risky lifestyle they may not want to abandon because it seems like the benefits they get out of it are so captivating to them.

THE AUTHOR’S READING

The author’s reading of the poem is very different from my reading of the same. As she reads the poem, she gives it a certain feel and comes out like a song with the rhyme scheme and the joy of the lads as written complements the whole mood of the poem. The mood of the poem as read by the author is so vibrant and jovial and a change of mood is noted at the end of the poem “We die soon.”

THE VIDEO BY JOHN ULRICH

The recitation of the poem by John Ulrich in the first place shows high feelings of contentment in the kind of behavior the lads engage themselves and still shows the regrets tied with the same. Cool is not really cool as said in the poem. Ulrich narrates it, a regretful face is vivid and seems like he is regretting the time wasted as well as happy that he is still alive if he was to be taken as the original narrator.

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