MY PAPA’S WALTZ- THEODORE ROETHKE POEM ANALYSIS
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.
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