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Roethke's Exploration of ideas in 'My Papa's Waltz'

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Lucy Fitzpatrick - Text Response Roethke's Exploration of ideas in 'My Papa's Waltz' Theodore Roethke explores his ideas to great effect in My Papa's Waltz. Through his use of vocabulary and his choice of subject, Roethke successfully puts the reader in the mind of a young child. He explores the emotions felt by a child towards his parents and the physical proportions of a child in relation to an adult. The reader immediately feels the emotion and joy that the child feels as he is swept up by his father waltzing him to bed. Roethke is very good at writing with the sentiment of a child. From the title, the reader immediately is given the impression that the poem is about a child, 'My Papa' sounds possessive and cherished, just the way that a child feels about their father. ...read more.


This proportion gives the reader a real feeling for the way the child has been swept up both physically and emotionally by the situation. The boy hangs on like 'death' to his father and finds the waltzing difficult, but he loves the dancing like nothing else. The child clings to his papa's shirt and the father holds onto his child's wrists. This indicates the size of the child and therefore the way that he is physically carried away by the situation. When the father and son 'romp until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf' Roethke is telling us that a frantic dance is taking place. This dance, although it is lacking in style, is very joyous and full of love. ...read more.


Finally, Roethke points out how the child loves this part of the evening. The child is 'still clinging' to his father's shirt as he goes off to bed. The reader really feels the love and warmth that the child feels for his father and their evening ritual at this point. One can sense the disappointment that the child would feel when it is over, but above all the satisfaction and contentment that the child would feel because the waltzing has taken place. Roethke's explorations of the emotions of a child are highly successful. The way that the reader becomes carried away, as if he was a child, is an indication of how well Roethke has written 'My Papa's Waltz.' Roethke forces the reader to feel the emotions of the child, the love for his parents, and above all the love of the nightly ritual of crudely waltzing with his father. ...read more.

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