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ENG 125 Week 4 Assignment Reading Responses to a Poem


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Journey Into Literature 1
Running head: POEM REVIEW
Week Four Assignment
Ashford University
Introduction to Literature
ENG 125

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Journey Into Literature 2
Week Four Assignment
The most seductive poem types enjoyed are those that use a lot of rhyming and
symbolism in which I can then relate to in a personalized way. “My Papa’s Waltz” was written in
first person narrative and contained plenty of rhythm and symbolism. Crafted around a story
about a boy and his father, “My Papa’s Waltz” was read in the rhythmic form of a poem.
Identifying with the persona was simplistic because the author used “I” for first person
narrative which allowed me as the reader to relate to what Roethke, the author, was intending for
me to experience emotionally. As compared to a short story, Roethke used the introduction of the
poem to set the tone and setting for the story to follow. “The whiskey on your breath” was the
first lie entry and I relate to it all to well because my own father has a love affair with Jack
Daniels. As such I was able to identify with the senses of scenery and smell.
The next entry “could make a boy dizzy” conveyed the robust aroma of whiskey falling
off of the fathers breath and was crafted in such a way that readers may get a sense of over
indulgence? Moving on, Roethke wrote “the hand that held my wrist” and I could imagine
walking along with my father at age five. Again, written as a first-person narrative allowed me to
live through the story on a personal level. If Roethke had structured it with a third person
narrative then it would be less personal. By example: The boy did not say “squeezed” or
“grabbed” – The first person composure gave meaning to the poem and was even more effective
with the use of symbolism. With use of the linguistic ‘held’, the author provides a feeling of calm
and peace that is absent from fear. This in mind, “Held my wrist instead of something else such
as “Held my hand” does initially propose a forceful action.
As a reader of the poetry there was never a firm understanding of the identity of this
young man. This may have been done intentionally since the poem was crafted in a first person

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Journey Into Literature 3
narrative; whereby the author was trying to provoke a recollection of authenticity. This allowed
the relation of emotional ties before moving on to how the young lad was treated. The informal
diction also was a strong consideration for being able to relate to the poem. Though some of the
sentences were fragmented the poem was crafted in today’s literary form. “We romped until the
pans slid from the kitchen shelf” is an example of how the simplification brought more realism
of the boy actually speaking the poem. If it were first person narrative of the father then as a
reader there might be an expectation for more sophisticated descriptions.
The presence of symbolism was existent, but not dominant. With the design of the poem
there is a speculation that the symbolism will show up differently from reader to reader. Since the
poem does include dancing, I would correlate the symbolism to a emotion of joy. Although the
young man shudders his fathers drinking, he also enjoys the time he gets to spend with him. As a
reader we know that the boy looses interest in his fathers drinking because of the way that he
described his fathers breath as “dizzying”. The way that the mother reacted to the situation
caused a noticing that although she might have been displeased with his level of
mischievousness; he was not a bad father. “My mothers countenance could not frown on itself
was regarding the young man observing his mothers displeasure of her husband. There was a
adjusted sense of fear provoked within when describing such terms as ‘whiskey’ ‘breath’ and
‘wrist’, however; the author never exploits the initial perturbation further so it was dismissed all
together as a playful experience. Since the young man never mentions any evasiveness or
displeasure there is no reason not to dismiss any initiations of concern or fear.
In reference of the rhyming and rhythm within the poem I noted line two and four of each
subsection of the poem ended in alliterations. The sound that ‘y’ produces in words like ‘dizzy’
and ‘easy’ create a smooth flow throughout the poem. Also, each line of the poem contained six

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