POETRY AND PERFORMANCE 1
The poem My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke portrays thetheme of masculinity. The literary piece also highlights thesignificance of gender roles. The persona’s father is described ashaving a rough hand that was “battered on one knuckle” (Roethke).Men are also depicted as responsible for training their children.Although the man’s breath made the “small boy dizzy,” thelatter was determined to “hung on like death” (Roethke). On theother hand, women are portrayed as submissive while taking care ofkitchen responsibilities.
Poetic devices refer to components that contribute to literaryunderstanding. My Papa’s Waltz contains a regular rhyme as shown bythe use of end words such as breath, death, dizzy, easy, pans,countenance, shelf, and itself. The poem also uses symbolism since“death” signifies the boy’s unwavering commitment to hisfather. Such poetic devices enhance the author’s message since theyshow the development of masculinity. In this regard, the boy wasdetermined to emulate his father. The use of rhyme also shows thevalue of gender roles since the woman was consigned to the kitchen.The words ‘pan’ and ‘countenance’ highlight the persona’smother concern for household items.
Listening aloud to the highlighted certain words were not obviouslyevident in the silent reading. For example, the words ‘you’ and‘death’ were emphasized to show the father’s responsibility asthe head of the family. The pace of the poem also changed in the lastparagraph as the speaker highlighted a sense of finality. Forinstance, the words “then waltzed me off to bed” were readfaster. Indeed, reading poetry aloud during analysis is worthwhilesince it highlights poetry devices such as rhyme and symbolism.
Roethke, T. (n.d). My Papa’s Waltz. Poetry Archive.Retrieved from http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/my-papas-waltz