’s Waltz And Those Winter Sundays Essay, Research Paper
My Papa s Waltz and Those Winter Sundays
My Papa s Waltz, by Theodore Roethke, and Those Winter
Sundays, by Robert Hayden, are two somewhat similar poems about
respected fathers. To most people a father is not just the man who fertilizes
their mother s egg, but a man that spends time with and takes care of them.
While doing this, he gains their love and respect. In these two poems
Roethke and Hayden take an admiring look back at the actions of their
fathers, although; they both imply that their parents were not perfect.
In My Papa s Waltz, Theodore Roethke describes an episode in his
childhood. In this, what seems to be regular, occurrence his drunken father
comes home for the night reeking of alcohol and begins dancing with him.
Roethke describes his father s hands as being battered on one knuckle and
extremely soiled. They romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf
(5-6). This made his mother so upset that she could do nothing but frown.
Finally, his father waltzed him on to bed.
In Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, the poet also
relinquishes on a regular occurrence in his childhood. On Sunday mornings,
just as any other morning, his father rises early and puts on his clothes in the
cold darkness. He then goes out in the cold and splits fire wood with which
he uses to start a fire in the house. After the entire house is warm he calls the
rest of his family out of bed. He does not get any thanks for doing this, but
that does not seem to matter.
In both poems the poets seem to look back on their childhoods with
much love and respect for their fathers. In My Papa s Waltz the title
suggests a sense of love and honor. Usually when a child calls his father
Papa they have a very close relationship in which the child respects and
admires his father. Also, the use of the word Waltz suggests a Happy dance
of high class people. This is ironic because Roethke s father is drunken and
dirty when this dance takes place, but when one thinks of the waltz they think
of a dance between two high-classed people in an extravagant ballroom.
Another example of the child s love and respect for his father is illustrated in
the things he overlooks just to be able to carryout the dance. Although The
whiskey your [his father s] breath could make a small boy dizzy (1-2), the
child hung on like death (3). The speaker also overlooks the pain of his ear
scraping against a belt buckle at every missed step of his drunken father just
to continue his waltz . Roethke also indirectly implies his respect for his
father by stating that his hand is caked hard with dirt (14). This is
representative of his father having had a hard day at work.
Robert Hayden uses a different approach to imply his love and respect
for his father. He uses an example of a regular occasion that he did not pay
much attention to when he was a child but now that he is an adult he looks
back on it with the utmost respect. Just as any other day his father gets up
bright and early on Sunday mornings. He puts on his clothes in the cold
darkness and goes outside to split firewood. Although he does not pay this
much attention in his childhood, Hayden really respects it as an adult. His
fathers actions are a result of his simple love for his children. Although his
approach is different, Hayden uses one of the same references to his father as
Roethke: his hand. Hayden refers to the condition of his father s hands with
this statement: With cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday
weather (3-4). This suggests that his father is a very hard worker.
Although both poems represent the poet s love and respect for their
fathers, there is one implement in each poem that suggests the fathers and
family life was not perfect. The imperfection of the father in My Papa s
Waltz is clearly stated. He has a drinking problem. In relation to this the
mother s continuous frowning, the pans falling from the shelf may not have
been the complete cause. She could have been frowning because she is tired
of her husband coming home drunk every night. This may be a chronic
problem in their relation ship. In Those Winter Sundays there is no
clean-cut imperfection but one is implied when the speaker refereed to the
chronic angers of that house (9). These angers are not specifically drawn out
but they could be of many things like the absence of a mother or the
abusiveness of the father, but whatever it may be, there is some imperfection.
My Papa s Waltz and Those Winter Sundays are two poems that
express the poets love and respect for their parents. This love and respect may
not have been as big of an issue to them when they were children but now
they understand why their fathers did the things they did and will use those
experiences to help them in their adult life.