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Childhood Memories

"My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke and "Piano" by D.H. Lawrence are two poems in which grown men recall memories of their childhood. "My Papa's Waltz" has a quietly sad, almost resigned tone as Roethke relives his nightly dances with his father as a young boy. Lawrence's "Piano" is somewhat dreamy as a man is taken back by a song to his childhood. While both are presented to us through similar personas, striking differences are apparent throughout the two poems."My Papa's Waltz" is the pensive recollection of a boy's nightly waltz around the house in the arms of his father. Roethke's poem gives a voice to the often silent internal conflict that the children of addicts struggle with. The sad resignation of the young boy is solidified early on in the poem. In the first stanza Roethke sets a tone of both pain and loyalty with the line, "But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy" (479). "My Papa's Waltz" provides readers with the opportunity to see life through the eyes of the boy, dictated by his fathers drunken whims and his mother's quiet resignation. The third stanza paints a picture of a small child's careful admiration for his father as he recalls, "The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle" (479). And yet at the end of the stanza, we are shown just how defenseless the child is as his father drags him around the room, scraping his son's ear with his belt buckle. Roethke makes the most important statement in the last line of his poem, " waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt" (479). Clinging, and all that the word implies: fear, sadness, love and admiration, is both the greatest strength and obstacle the boy will encounter in his relationship with his father.In contrast to "My Papa's Waltz", D. H. Lawrence's "Piano" is a man's remembrance of a happy childhood. Lawrence sets a dream-like tone in the first stanza of his poem as we are taken back through the years to a man's boyhood. Taken back...

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