Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Response to "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 mothers countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scrapped a buckle.

You beat time on my head,
With a palm caked hard with dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Response: Today in class, we debated over whether or not this poem was about a father abusing his child. My group was neutral, and really, I think this poem could be about an abusive dad, or just a drunk father waltzing and having a good time with his son. We know the father has been drinking in the poem, but it is debatable whether or not he is actually drunk. Some people in my group think that "waltzing" could represent the father stumbling around and possibly harming his kid. Others thought that when waltzing is stated in the poem, it just means waltzing. Again, it could be either, but it does seem like the speaker of the poem (the child) is having fun. If he was getting harmed, the poem would possibly be more grim, and the child would most likely be trying to avoid his dad.  Personally, I think that this poem is just about a drunk dad dancing and playing with his son. This poem could be just that, or it could have deeper meaning. I think that this poem was possibly written to have two meanings. As for which one is right, it just depends on how you read it.

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