This assignment required that I read, contrast and analyze three separate poems. I found the focus in all surrounding father figures. Although, the sentiment regarding the paternal figure differs in each poem, the key in each is the acts of love from fathers toward the speakers and to a degree the sentiment that the speakers feel in return toward their fathers.
In two of the poems, Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” (p.622) and Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” (p.623), the speakers’ are reminiscing about their relationships’ with their father, one not as kindly as the other is. In the last poem, “Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-Second Year” (p.625) written by Raymond Carver’s, the speaker studies and analyzes a picture taken of his father in his youth.
In My Papa’s Waltz, the speaker is looking back at his encounters with his drunken father as is mentioned in line 1 “The whiskey on your breath”. This is the indication that the father is a drinker. The speaker goes on to say, “Could make a small boy dizzy” (line 2), which leads the reader to believe that the father is a heavy drinker, although not necessarily an alcoholic. As I continued to read, it appears as if the speaker is ambivalent with regard to his father’s intoxicate state, but has made a decision to rename his father’s drunken stumble, with something much more elegant, a waltz.
The speaker seems to be very afraid of his father hurting him physically as in “My right ear scraped a buckle” (line 12) when his father drinks, more so than enjoying their dancing. He informs us that his mother was aware of what seems to be going on in the kitchen “We romped until the pans (line 5) slid (line 6) and said nothing. Then and only then we learn of her disapproval reflected in her facial expression “My mother’s countenance” (line 8) and (line 9), “Could not unfrown itself”.
In Hayden’s poem, there is no mention of a mother. The...