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Compare the two poems "My Papa's Waltz" and "Bitch" by Theodore Roethke and Carolyn Kizer, respectively.

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Introduction

"Men are disturbed not by things, But by the view which they take of them." - Epictetus It is said that it is the disorder in life that makes living real. Therefore as writing is a mirror of life; the conflict - disorder - in writing creates the feeling of reality and making the poem all the more powerful. In the two poems "My Papa's Waltz" and "Bitch" by Theodore Roethke and Carolyn Kizer, respectively, conflict is used to convey the main idea. The use of contradicting images emulates the fact that often love is double-sided, whether the conflict occurs simultaneously or sequentially. The images presented in "My Papa's Waltz" are simultaneously loving and violent - displaying that the child's relationship with his father was tumultuous but happy. By the two lines, "But I hung on like death, Such waltzing was not easy", as found in the first stanza, the reader is lead to violent assumptions regarding this family's life. This is largely due to the term 'death'. Had there been another term in that place, say the clich´┐Ż 'I hung on for my life', the connotations that the mind immediately associates to the terms is not nearly so violent. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, the part of the bitch fits exactly that of the term, a female wanting a male companion. Kizer writes the bitch as willing to dwell on the good times, rather than that of the bad, yearning to be a good dog and sits by its master's, the once lover's, feet once more. In contrast, Kizer has the narrator wish to gain control once more of the bitch within her and be rid of the man, albeit rather sadly. This play upon the word bitch, as title referring to the bitch within, as a female dog as it certainly is, as well as a female wanting a male with a sense of loyalty that dogs are famously known for, allows Kizer to develop this character with little words, focusing instead on the narrator. This develops a feeling more akin to reality as it is easier to relate to the narrator, the dominant character of the overall person, rather than those fleeting instances of instinctual thoughts displayed by the bitch. By creating this schizophrenic character, Kizer is able to display all thoughts that one is inclined to think in such a situation, allowing for easier application to one's life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Roethke ends the poem with the child "still clinging" to his father indicating that same positive aspect hidden behind the violent connotations. Yet, this same line is also utilized by Roethke to end the poem with a "happily ever after" thus indicating that no matter what happens the family still manages to remain intact, for their love is strong and double-sided. While Roethke uses a gentle swaying motion, Kizer utilizes a stronger, passionate argumentative manner where the narrator and bitch are in constant battle with each other. This overall structure emphasizes that there are two opposing sides presented. Each time the narrator berates the bitch, the next thing she utters to the once lover is reflective of her previous statement to the bitch. She reminds the bitch of the former lover's "ultimate dismissal," afterwards saying "It's nice to know you are doing so well" as a dismissal to the former lover. The bitch, narrator, and former lover are forever in conflict with each other each representing different aspects of love. The whole situation becomes a tug of war, ending only with the narrator dragging the bitch "off by the scruff" away from the former lover. ...read more.

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