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IN the poem Theodore Roethe's My Papa's Waltz Choose a significant word and find 3 different definitions and relate their uses back to the poem - Essay Example

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Poetry is able to touch us deeply and meaningfully because of its ability to explore multiple meanings in words at the same time, giving…
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IN the poem Theodore Roethes My Papas Waltz Choose a significant word and find 3 different definitions and relate their uses back to the poem
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Download file to see previous pages However, the word ‘beat’ used in the fourth stanza stands out to me as particularly meaningful. This word has several listed meanings within the American Heritage Dictionary. The three that seem particularly relevant associate this word with the concept of violence, the concept of music and the concept of exhaustion.
The American Heritage Dictionary offers as its first definition of the word ‘beat’ as “to strike repeatedly; to subject to repeated beatings or physical abuse, batter; to punish by hitting or whipping, flog” (2003). This definition seems to infuse the poem with an undertone of violence that is reinforced by other words that have this same meaning. These include the ideas of ‘battered’ that is used both in the above definition as well as in Roethke’s third stanza as he indicates the battered condition of his father’s hand. This condition indicates that the man is accustomed to fighting and violence and has little or no reluctance to use this same force within the home as the small boy is scraped against the father’s belt buckle, another image for many children of violence as it is the belt that was often used as a direct means of punishment for young boys who broke the rules. The idea of violence suggested by the definition of the word ‘beat’ is also found in the first stanza when the speaker confesses that he found it necessary to hang on “like death” (3) in order to avoid injury during these wild dances he shared with his father.
The second meaning of the word ‘beat’ offered by the American Heritage Dictionary is focused on the concept of sound. Specifically, this meaning is defined as “to strike so as to produce music or a signal; to mark or count (time or rhythm), especially with the hands or with a baton” (2003). This seems to be the intended meaning of the word as it is used in the obvious context of the poem as the speaker ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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