“Those Winter Sundays” (by Robert Hayden; original name: Asa Bundy Sheffey) and “My Papa’s Waltz (by Theodore Roethke) are two of the most famous American poems dealing with relations between fathers and their children. In Hayden’s poem the speaker (presumably a boy) recalls, and belatedly appreciates, all the labor his father performed on his behalf when the boy was young. In Roethke’s poem, the speaker recalls how his drunken father would dance with the speaker when the latter was very small. These two poems can be compared and contrasted in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Both poems focus on vivid memories of fathers, but the speaker in Roethke’s poem directly addresses his father, whereas the speaker in Hayden’s poem does not, except perhaps in the final two lines. Thus the tone of Roethke’s poem is more subjective, while the tone of Hayden’s poem is more objective.
- The father in Roethke’s poem behaves somewhat irresponsibly, since he is drunk...
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