Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Roethke recommendation

Here is a fascinating and thought-provoking piece by Edward Byrne on alternative readings of Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" and, by extension, on reading poems from the past from one's own perspective and from the perspectives of the age when they were written.

Here's the poem, copied from Byrne's post:


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 mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

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

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

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