Theodore Roethke

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What analysis can be made on form, line length, stanza formation, connotation, figurative language, and meaning in "My Papa’s Waltz" and "The Girl Who Loved the Sky"?

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Both poems are about problematic father figures or the absence of a father figure. Roethke's poem has seven-syllable lines in four-line stanzas with an abab rhyme scheme in a very closed, tight form. The connotation of the poem is a waltz the narrator dances with his father. The poet uses imagery, such as the smell of the whiskey on the father's breath, to convey how frightening the dance is for the child narrator. The poet also uses figurative language, such as the simile "I hung on like death," to describe the boy's manner of dancing with his father. The entire poem is also an extended metaphor, as the waltz the boy does with his father stands for their complicated, possibly abusive relationship (note that the father beats time on the boy's head) that the boy can't let go of.

Endrezze's "The Girl who Loved the Sky," has a looser form. The stanzas are of different lengths, and the lines do not rhyme and are of different lengths. This poem is about a girl who does not have a father. It's almost as if her lack of a father makes the poem looser, as in the first poem, the boy has a father who keeps everything controlled and orderly. The imagery in this poem is vivid, as the poet describes the petals of the jacaranda tree, the smell of glue, and the way in which the blind girl thinks of the taste of the sky as "cold metal." There are many examples of figurative language, such as the simile, "the sky falling/like chalk dust" or the metaphor "numbers were fractious beasts/with dens like dim zeros." In this poem, the girl, who is fatherless, finds a temporary home in her school and with her classmate, who is blind. The pairing of the fatherless girl and the blind girl suggests that not having a father is like being blind. On the day the blind girl leaves, the narrator says, "the sky/backed away from me like a departing father." She has been left entirely alone and even the sky has deserted her as her father already has.

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