In the beginning of My Papas Waltz, the little boy, the speaker, starts off with a somewhat of a frightening tone in his voice. He makes points to the odor of alcohol on the breath of his dance partner, in this case, his father. When he describes his father coming in, he also says that he is clinging onto him like death. Usually when someone makes any kind of reference to death, it is in some kind of negative light. In the second stanza however, the boys frightened tone turns into something of amusement. His descriptions of the dance are not like death anymore, but fun.
His voice makes the transition when he describes the dance as romping around a kitchen. He continues with his enjoyable notions when he describes his mothers countenance the could not unfrown itself. If this were a poem of domestic violence like I am sure it can easily be mistaken for, then his mother could not have a face that would be as if she had just come from a comedy show. There was mention of readers having the misconception of the poem being about domestic violence. That may be seen in the third stanza. It can be read in a few different ways. A battered knuckle, an ear scraping a buckle, those may seem like descriptions of beatings with a belt.
That stanza alone can spell out negativity. It would give the poem an entirely negative voice if it and the reader were to stop there. Go on however to the last stanza where the boy sounds a little more somber. Beating time, not only on someones body parts, but in general is seen by musicians as one of the most relaxing things that one can do. Though tired, his father still had the strength enough to whisk his son off to bed. The boy didnt want to go because maybe he doesnt get to see his father very often and he clings to his shirt because it just may be one of the most satisfying things that he has done with his father and he doesnt want to lose the joy in it.
A Drunken Dance Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" tells the reader of a small boy's memory of his father. It explains how his father is intoxicated and the scene that goes along with it, using the word waltz to describe it. In the first two lines, it recounts the smell of his father's breath and the extent to which it reeked: "The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy" (1-2). As ...