My Papa’s Waltz Summary & Analysis by Theodore Roethke

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“My Papa’s Waltz” was written by the American poet Theodore Roethke. It was first published in 1942, then collected in his book The Lost Son and Other Poems in 1948. At first glance, the poem describes a charming family scene: a father and son dance together in the kitchen, roughhousing and romping around. But the speaker supplies a number of hints that things aren’t quite as happy as they seem. The poem subtly reflects on the tension between fathers and sons—tension that in turn may suggest undercurrents of violence.

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