Comparative Analysis of Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz and Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays."

Posted: September 27, 2016

Comparative Analysis of Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz and Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays."

Ever since the growth of the family community, the love of parents towards their children have been taken for granted. In many instances, the father spent most of the time outside, working for revenue to feed the family. Therefore, they rarely had an opportunity to interact with children. The fathers' expression of affection towards their children began to be more and more inactive and somewhat silent.   

This paper will compare and contrast between Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My papa's Waltz. "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden utilizes evocative imagery, perception, and an apologetic tone to exhibit the realization of the speaker of an unnoticed and ignored manifestation of his father's love- building fires on chilly Sunday dawns in winter, implying that a father’s love is usually taken for granted. In Theodore’s “My Papa’s Waltz”, the poet utilizes profoundly ironic tone and robust imagery to show the paradoxical character of the speaker’s father-childhood relationship, implying that a father’s love is not often expressed through tender caress.    \

Theodore Roethke in My Papa's Waltz gives a description of an incident in his childhood. In what appears to be a routine happening; his father, who is a drunkard, arrives home at night stinking of alcohol and starts to dance with him. Theodore depicted the hands of his father as being extremely soiled and battered on one knuckle. The poem describes a scenario where they danced until pans in kitchen slid off the kitchen shelf. Finally, the father waltzed him to sleep in bed. In Those Winter Sundays; Hayden Robert, the writer also relinquishes on a recurring occurrence in his infanthood. On many Sunday dawns, just like any other morning, his dad wakes up early and dresses in the cold darkness. Later, he proceeds in the chilly weather to split firewood with which he utilizes to ignite a fire at home. After warming the house, he calls the entire family out of their beds. Although he does not receive any thanks, it appears not to matter anyway.

The poet, in both poems, appears to flash back on their childhood with much respect and love for their dads. In My Papa Waltz; the title insinuates a perception of honor and love. When a child calls his dad Papa, it depicts that the relationship they have with their dad is close and that the child admires and respects his father. Moreover, the use of the word Waltz implies a joyful dance of high-class individuals. Ironically, his dad is dirty and drunk when the dance occurs yet still when one thinks of waltz the immediate picture they have is a classy dance in an expensive ballroom. Another illustration of the child's respect and affection for his father is showed by the things he overlooks so as to go on with the dance. For instance, the speaker ignored the discomfort in his ear from scrapping against the buckle of his belt. Roethke also suggests indirectly his reverence and admiration by averring that his hands are cracked with dirt. Clearly this is an imagery of the father having to work hard the entire day.

Both poems emphasize on clear memories of their parents, but in Roethke's poem, the speaker addresses his father directly, while in Hayden's poem, the speaker does not save for the last two lines. Therefore, the tone in the poem of Roethke is more subjective whereas the tone of Hayden's poem is objectified. My Papa's Waltz is a poem that is greatly concerned with the poem's form. The iambic trimesters, three lambs that make the poem are implying the three-quarter beat of a waltz. Moreover, we can find after every two lines, a bit of an abbreviation, probably suggesting how the drunken father lost his steps. Precisely, the poem's tone is remarkably placid and calm, basically laying out the facts that have occurred to him without being subjective.

The speaker in Roethke's poem appears somewhat frightened of his dad and finds him a somewhat slightly menacing and even unpredictable figure. He remembers his father with a type of terror. However, in Hayden's poem, the speaker remembers his dad as the thoughtful, loving and self-sacrificing character. He remembers his father with respect and love, but also with some remorse, as the son failed to show gratitude for his dad when he was young. Moreover in Roethke's poem, the speaker seems silent, no proof exists that he communicates to his father, maybe since he felt scared by the drunkenness and strength. In contrast, the speaker in Hayden's poem does talk to his daddy, but barely "indifferently" a detail that he presently regrets.

The center of Hayden's poem is more on the father while the focus on the poem written by Roethke is to the reactions and feelings of the boy. Although both poems represent respect and love for their daddies, there exists a single device in each of the poems that imply that the family life and the fathers were not perfect. In My Papa Waltz, the imperfection of the father clearly states. He poses a problem of drinking alcohol. Therefore causes the mother's persistent frowning and the pans skidding off the shelf. In Those Winter Sundays; the imperfection is not clear cut. However, one is hinted at when the speaker makes a reference to the chronic anger of that home, whatever the cause it shows that there exist imperfections.

"Those Winter Sundays" and "My Papa's Waltz"; are poems that show the poets' respect and love for their fathers. This respect and love may not have been  as huge concern to them when they were young, but now, more than ever they know why their fathers performed the things they had to and will exploit those experience to aid them in their life as adults.

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