Similarities in My Papas Waltz and Those Winter Sundays Poems

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

My Papas Waltz and Those Winter Sundays

My Papas 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 mothers 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 Papas 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 fathers hands as being battered on one knuckle and extremely soiled. They romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf. 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 Papas 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 Roethkes 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 childs 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 fathers] breath could make a small boy dizzy, the child hung on like death. 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. 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 fathers hands with this statement: With cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather. This suggests that his father is a very hard worker.

Although both poems represent the poets 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 Papas Waltz is clearly stated. He has a drinking problem. In relation to this the mothers 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. 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 Papas 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.

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