My Papa's 'Waltz'

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Roethke's poem My Papa's Waltz was the one that caught my eye easiest by his saying waltzing, I got 'child abuse' out of it.
This threw a red flag at me, because I am going to be teaching K-3rd grade and though people like to be blind to the subject, it does happen.
This poem is found on page 13.
The poem begins with a common rhyme scheme of A B A B and continues on to not exactly rhyme every-other-line, but rolls off the tongue easily.

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy
First off- alcohol is usually a common cause of child abuse. The fact that it is making the boy 'dizzy' and he had to hang on 'like death' is another thing that makes the whole situation unsettling.

W
e romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
romped is usually a word used with animals. they were acting as animals. and his mother was unhappy, but apparently could not stop it.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
His father's hand is holding his wrist so he doesn't move, and is battered possibly because of physical harm that the fist has done. If he stumbles, messes up, he gets punished more

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt."
This is, to me, the most alarming stanza of the poem. literally it is saying because the child was around all day and is up too late (maybe?), the father has had enough of his nonsense (when the father needs some parenting advice himself...) is again abusing him and dragging him off to bed.


Other students' takes on Roethke

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