An Analysis Of 'My Papa's Waltz'

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Looking Back on My Youth
As adults, we often reminisce about our childhood days. We enjoy going back to the carefree days of innocence. We can almost hear the laughter of days gone by, as we feel a smile come across our face. It’s amazing how reminiscing can change our mood and how much joy it brings. A trip down memory lane is priceless and good for the soul. We get to visit with our loved ones, who are no longer with us, or those far away. In the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” written by Theodore Roethke, the speaker, reminisces back to his childhood with his father. The speaker reflects—through the rhythm, word choice, theme, and tone—on the ritual of the special nightly bedtime waltz that father and son
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The father and son share a nightly waltz, which brings them close together before bedtime. That is time put aside for them to bond and make memories. A waltz is a type of dance that someone must lead; the father is the one leading the child into the waltz and he doesn’t have much control of himself, therefore, the son is having a little difficulty keeping up. They are so rambunctious they are causing the pans slide off the kitchen shelf. “We romped until the pans / slid from the kitchen shelf,” (5-6). Life can also be interpreted as a dance. There are ups and downs, we may go round and round, get our toes stepped on, or it could be a smooth waltz. In life’s dance, sometimes we lead and sometimes we have to follow. According to Lisa Jadwin, “This dance is a parody of the familiar genteel waltz and reveals the depth and complexity of a son 's sometimes joyful and sometimes painful relationship with his working-class father,” (1). We can’t always be in …show more content…
According to Baird, "My Papa’S Waltz." Masterplots II: Poetry, “Otto Roethke loved his son, but could not approve of his path in life; Theodore loved his father but was unable to demonstrate that love in ways that his father could understand. Worse, Otto died while Theodore was still a teenager, so the father never learned what a leading role in his chosen field the son would play — nor did Theodore have a chance during his father’s lifetime to resolve the differences between them,” (2). As children, we don’t understand that our parent’s expectations are for our own good. We as parents want what’s best for our children, and also expect more because we know their potential. The tone is set in the beginning, with the speaker having enough whiskey on his breath to make his son dizzy. In the last stanza as the father is waltzing the boy off to bed, the boy is clinging to his father’s shirt, because he’s not ready for the waltz to be over. “Then waltzed me off to bed / Still clinging to your shirt.”(15 -16). He could also be clinging to his father’s shirt because he doesn’t want their time to be

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