The bond between a father and child is predominantly unbreakable.
Only absolute chaos could ever come close to breaking such a relationship that’s extensively filled with love and loyalty. With all that passion there comes a great sense of responsibility. Furthermore, not everyone is suited to father a child. One drunken mistake can lead to a lifetime of tormenting memory. The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” written by Theodore Roethke, illustrations the mixed emotions of a young boy towards his intoxicated father.
Roethke employs imagery, diction, and symbolism to reminisce about his unconditional love towards his father despite the imperfection.Roethke’s choice of diction highlights the interwoven emotion of love the little boy harbors for his drunken father. The poet utilizes specific language to convey an ecstatic “waltzing” (4) between the father and young boy, even in an intoxicated situation. The dance of waltz requires two individual to perform together in harmony.
The waltzing also depicts the depth intimacy between the father and son. The title of the poem also emphasizes a child’s joyous and lighthearted dance with his father. The term “Papa” can be interpreted as an affectionate word for father, and “Waltz” symbolizes their relationship. Words like “romped” (5) and “waltzed” (15) demonstrates a playful and carefree atmosphere.
The son is simply relishing time with his father before bedtime.The poet utilizes imagery to illuminate the intimate moments between the son and his father. The poet portrays the caring nature of the father toward his son by stating, “The hand that held my wrist” (9). The holding of the hand implies the loving bond between a son and his father. In the stanza, the narrator is noticing the small details like the “battered knuckle” (10) of his father. The speaker also mentions “With a plan caked hard by dirt” (14), in the fourth stanza. Those images imply a hard-working father who probably just come from work and spends some quality time with his son before putting him off to bed. This is a definite bonding experience between a father and a son.
The speaker enlightens that even though “Such waltzing was not easy” (4) he still “hung on like death” (3). This portrays that the speaker is still clinging on to his father’s memories. This also shows his dependency on his father and his need for affection from him. This also proves the little boy admires his father even though it was challenging to waltz with him.
In the final stanza, the speaker is ” Still clinging to his father’s shirt”(16) again emphasizing their imperfect relationship. The speaker expresses his love for his father through vivid imagery associated with clinging to his shirt. Since this was the last dance before bed, the son did not want their night to end. This express how much the boys adores spending time with his father. The poem employs an ABAB rhyme scheme. The constant rhythm throughout the poem endows it with a light beat like the waltz; the reader feels as if she is dancing alongside the pair. The rhythm also displays the verse a with light and joyous tone.
Although the poem starts with a serious beat, it progresses into a playful one which reinforces the caring regard of the son to his father. The rhythm of the poem is iambic trimeter, which makes the poem short and sweet. The rhythm of the poem also adds to the details of waltzing. Waltzing symbolizes the relationship between a son and his father. It entirely reflects the emotions the speaker feels toward his father. The dance involves moving across the floor which also symbolizes the growth from youth to maturity.
Even as a grown man, the speaker will always carry those precious memories of his father. In conclusion, reader’s personal life may interrupt with the interpretation of the poem. Some might view as a merry dance between father and son, and others can confirm it as child abuse. The poem reveals the speaker’s ambivalent emotions toward his father in an intimate tone. The poem does not state that the son is being abused instead it is just light-hearted dance form of dance between a son and his father.
Even though the father is intoxicated, the son displays his unconditional love for his father.