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Theodore Roethke

            Theodore Roethke is a great American Poet who wrote many great works including "My Papa's Waltz" and "I Knew a Woman" which will be compared in this essay. His inventive uses of double entendres create amazing, realistic visuals for the reader. He is a great demonstrator of the meaning of love whether it is towards a lover or a parent. .
             In "My Papa's Waltz" a grown man's looks back at a loving and close moment with his father. The theme of the poem seems to be one of nostalgia and demonstrates that the moments spent with our parents should be cherished. The very simple structure and visuals produced by the poem help to create its humorous and carefree feeling.
             The poem is built of four quatrains, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is regular and the meter is tercet iamb. The image being focused on is that of a waltz around the house with the poet's father. The rhythm of a waltz is accentuated by the meter, which happens to also be the beat of a waltz. The secondary images are those of a young child trying to keep up with a drunk but very, happy father. .
             Although the poem is narrated retrospectively, from a grown up man's point of view, the narrator shows us that the love to his father is not, and never was lost. The drunken father's breath, "Could make a small boy dizzy", yet the boy hangs "on like death" (My Papa's lines 2-3). A few times during the poem he talks about hanging on, which gives the feeling that he loved and stayed with his father during his childhood, and that he does that even now when his childhood is no longer with him. Another way in which the love to the father is shown is the way in which the father is described. By calling him "Papa" instead of father, the poet uses a word which is used for fathers who have a certain kindhearted relationship with their child. Together with this love is the description of the father as a working man with his hands "caked hard by dirt" (My Papa's line 14) and "battered on one knuckle" (My Papa's line 10).

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