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My Papa's Waltz

Theodore Roethke

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What I've Read into it
Added by: Rheanna Skelton
This poem, to me, is neither about abuse or about the love of a child and his father. It is about both. It's a psychological look at a memory, the narrator looking back at his life and seeing the fun that he had with his father, but also the roughness his father had with him, however, I believe was unintentional. I DO feel that the father must have drank a lot though- The line that reads "The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy." tells us that. It COULD make A small boy dizzy- but 1st. not this boy. and 2nd it could, if he wasn't used to it. Just my thoughts :)
some thoughts
Added by: Darlene Linares
* the boy is used to his father being drunk because it ptobably happens on a regular basis. He remembers this in his childhood becasue it happens all the time, like a pattern. The only things I remember of my childhood are things i did a lot.

* we know the boy is about 6 or 7 because he is as tall as his fathers belt buckle, thats why his ear scrapes on it.

* "waltz" in german means playful/romping. So we know for sure this isn't a case of an abusive father.
Papa's Waltz
Added by: McKEet
This poem only means what our own connections to certain words denote. The words abuse and alcoholism are never used. This is the beauty of this poem. Each person comes away with a different meaning of this poem and this is what poetry is for.
lots of love and fun
Added by: Pat
Have none of you ever danced around your kitchen with your child, young or old? It's loads of FUN, it makes you both happy, your breath can smell of whiskey or not and you are neither DRUNK nor ALCOHOLIC. Try it sometime witha boy/girl friend, spouse, child, it makes you feel great! Turn on the radio and have a blast!!!!!
Added by: kass :-)
This poem is filled with abuse. even my english teacher Miss.Reed explained it to our class. Since the father is drunk "The whiskey on your breath" he is moving akwardly like he is waltzing. If this was a happy poem filled with love then why would the boy cling on like "death?" Death isn't a happy word. "We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf" this is way more than a little horseplay. More of an attack. If the father and son were just playing then why would his father be holding his wrist? It was "battered on one knuckle" because the son was trying to escape his fathers grip. this is all of the evidence you need. peace up yoz!!!!
Added by: jj
i think it is just a boy enjoying a dance with his father. maybe his father is drunk but that does not prove that his father is an alcoholic. what is wrong with you people must you always think about violence
Added by: Charity~Ann
i think that this poem is quit literal. I feel that is shows the love between a dunkin father and a little boy. This poem shows perfect iambic pentamiter, and ryme scheme. This poem suggests that every night when the father comes home he dances with his son before he goes to bed trying to show his love to his son. but it also makes you feel like the little boy is not happy and neither is the Mother of the boy.--but this is just my opinion
Sexual abuse
Added by: Jordan
This poem is about the boy and his sexual abuse that his father gives him. Romp has an illicit meaning and is about his father raping him. The mother is watching and can't due anything about it. After the deed is done the father knocks him out and takes him to bed.
Added by: samoji
this poem is about an abused boy who is so small he only goes up to his father's waist. his father is an alcoholic and beats him, yet the little boy still loves him, which could be interpreted with the desperate image of him "still clinging to your[his dad's] shirt
Added by: samoji
also, if you ever take the time to actually read up on roethke's biography, you'll find out that his father was abusive and alcoholic

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