Name Instructor Course Date “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays”: Fathers and Sons. Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays,” and Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” are both poems which poignantly depict the father-son relationship…
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However, a closer reading demonstrates several similarities in the poems. Both the narrators are young boys who describe a small incident in their childhood. These little vignettes mirror the entire father-son relationship of the two pairs. Although the point of view, image and diction used in “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays” depict contrasts in character, scene and mood, both poems are similar in highlighting the deep love which characterizes the father-son relationship. The point of view in the poems shows the contrasting characters of the fathers. Both “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays” are narrated from the point of view of the little boys. The poems are seen through the lens of memory, when the narrators look back on childhood scenes from the perspective of adults. Although the poems are superficially plain to understand, there is a hidden complexity in the voice of the speakers. Roethke’s little boy portrays his father as a large man, living life to the full and exuding a joie-de-vivre which is captivating to a child. His father dances, romps with gay abandon and keeps time with the rhythm of the waltz by beating time on his son’s head. ...
The reticence of the father results in the child “speaking indifferently to him” (Hayden, 9). However, the adult narrator is deeply aware of “the great hurt of the recollection” (Gallagher, 245) of his cruel indifference and the entire poem is suffused with the voice of regret. The image of the poems depicts completely different scenes. “My Papa’s Waltz” is set in the kitchen and there is an impression of intimate warmth. The room is filled with family: the father, the mother and the child. The image is that of a home in which there is close interaction among the members. The picture of kitchen shelves stacked with pots and pans suggests the comfort of food. The image of the father carrying the little boy to bed conveys the impression that the child is accustomed to being put to sleep by the father – an expression of parental concern and time spent together. In contrast, the image of “Those Winter Sundays” is one of uncompromising cold. The house appears to be empty; there is no sign of the mother. Even when the father “made banked fires blaze,” (Hayden, ---4/5), the cold persists as “The warmth of the fire does not penetrate the atmosphere” (Gallgher, 245). The all-pervasive cold is not only physical but also extends to the cold indifference of the little boy to his father. The diction used in “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays” effectively portrays the mood of the poems. In “My Papa’s Waltz,” “the rollicking rhythms of the poem; the playfulness of a rime like dizzy and easy; the joyful suggestions of the words waltz, waltzing, and romped” (Fong, 78), all indicate a little boy’s joy in this play with his
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