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My Papa's Waltz

Theodore Roethke

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Added by: Marie
The story is about a boy because the second line says "could make a small boy dizzy" that's the author speaking of his self. Why would a girl say that if she was waltzing with her dad? It doesn't make sense that way. I don't know any girl who would refer to herself as a boy, unless they're a transsexual and i don't believe a little child would be.
Added by: Ashlee
I beleive that this poem is a poem that has different perspectives. Each individual that reads this poem may see things differently. There are evidence that supports both child abuse and a loving dad just dancing with his son. Each individual perceives things differently. That is what makes dicussions fun about poetry. I think Roethke did this on purpose.

So, I believe that each comment made here is correct and supported.
My Explication
Added by: Chris of Lewis & Clark College
Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” is a closed form poem of sixteen lines. The poem consists of four stanzas with four lines in each stanza, equally forming a quatrain. In this poem, the persona (writing in the first person point of view and addressing a “you”) reveals his feelings towards his father. The tone of the scene is warm and reminiscent. There was imagery used in the poem. The poem addressed the senses at the beginning by talking about the whiskey on the papa’s breath (1). Readers could also hear the pans in the kitchen crashing (5-6). The son was reminiscing about when his father would come home after work. He could feel and make the reader feel his father’s hands and his ear scraping his father’s belt buckle (9-12). His father would come inside and take a drink of whiskey after a long day at work. The simile “But I hung on like death” (3) shows that the boy cherished the few moments of quality time with his father. The persona describes every detail when he used to waltz. Remembering how every step went, and the feeling of his ear scraping against his father’s buckle (12). The last line of the poem, “Still clinging to your shirt” (16) tells the reader that he loves his father and does not want to lose him.
Added by: greenback
a good poem... every dad would love to have a dance with his son or daughter, so i don't see anything wrong about it. agree??
Added by: slushman
I don't really think it's about abuse, and it certainly doesn't seem about hate or anger. The term "papa" has such a more loving conotation then "father", which kinda represents a loving relationship....?.....maybe.... i dunno...
Added by: Saffra
The poem is reflecting back on a memory or the past time he has had with his father. His growing up -experience symbolizes his father in raising him. He is a small boy, and when the music plays and Papa is off by at least one beat, his right ear hits his belt buckle. There isnt much abuse, but with time, (as time passed- beat time) his father, work- experienced, takes him off to bed, with the boy clinging on to his father. This could also be referring to, that time was being BEAT down on him, too harshly and that his father waltzed him off and away too soon, before the son was ready. his father's a freakin alcoholic.
Added by: Larry Fleming
The word waltz is used to show the child's confused emotions towards his father. He is obviously beaten, yet he love his father. Also, the belt-buckle in the poem can show memories of belt beatings in the past. The child's terror eventually overcomes his fealing of love.
Added by: tim armstrong
I believe that this poem was written to explain his feelings, being a son of german immigrants,of either WW1 or WW2. if you read this into the smallest detail a war is perfectly possible for the meaning of his poem.

maybe if Roethke was alive today this whole mass confusion of what his poem means would be cleared up bye now.
Added by: YAngel41189
Even though there can be different meanings to this poem, i think it is about a boy being beaten up. The whiskey on his breath should mean that he is drunk, and the line where it said 'the hand that held my wrist was battered on one knuckle' shows that the father was beating the child up. cauz if u beat someone up, your knuckles get battered or scratched. this can also be related to To Kill A Mockingbird, Mayella Ewell and Mr. Ewell. The reason why innocent Tom Robinson had to be killed. So i think this is about a child getting beat up by a father.
Added by: chris
the poem certainly is ambiguous pertaining to its specific subject. I think either argument of abuse or innocent play is legitimate and neither should be doubted or accepted unless someone truly knows

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