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My Papa's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

Posted Jul 03 2008 1:14pm
Normally on weekends I pick a favorite piece of poetry, post it and then hope that people will enjoy it plus maybe even search out more of the writers work. The following poem is a little bit different for a number of reasons. The obvious one would be today is Fathers Day and this poem fits well. The other reason is the interpretation of this poem for some people believe it speaks of childhood innocence and others believe the work is describing child abuse. To be honest I can see it both ways but have never picked a firm stance and I am a little bit curious how others see "My Papa's Waltz" written by Theodore Roethke. Anyway here it is:

My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath

Could make a small boy dizzy;

But I hung on like death:

Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother's countenance

Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist

Was battered on one knuckle;

At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

Then waltzed me off to bed

Still clinging to your shirt.

Theodore Roethke

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