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Theodore Roethke - My Papa's Waltz

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by

Mary Tang

on 30 May 2012

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Transcript of Theodore Roethke - My Papa's Waltz

Theodore Roethke What is the theme? Thank you for your attention! Born on May 25, 1908
Saginaw, Michigan
Parents: Otto and Helen Huebner Roethke
January 3, 1953: Married Beatrice O'Connell
Died on August 1, 1963
Coronary Occlusion The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My night ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt. Theodore Huebner Roethke My Papa's Waltz Written in four quatrains A B A B rhyme LYRIC POEM three two one Stanza by Stanza four "The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death
Such waltzing was not easy." Humor is shown
What if he let go?
Easy Waltz vs. Hard Waltz simile "We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself." synecdoche Part of the whole; smile & face (countenance)
Sense of violence from the dance
"Mother" vs. "Papa" (Mr. Esterly, please give me a good grade!) "The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My night ear scraped a buckle." Is it ambiguous or not? Close relationship - closest
wrists
Both had injuries
Dad - labor
Son - from dad, dance, relationship What is the view point of this poem? "You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt." Iambic trimeter, extra foot around lines 2 and 4
Clumsy Father's hand seen again
Waltz as a verb --> whisked
Last line: fear
Endure and not enjoy Questions Posed: Mother's view on father?
Does she dislike the wreckful dance that causes violence on the child? ". . .even in the feminine and romantic world of the dance, a man must be tough." (Baird)
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