In Theodor Roethke's 'My Papa's waltz' the reader finds a horrid experiance, the beating of a child by his father, which is told in a way of a romantic and beutifull dance - the waltz. The feeling one get from reading this poem is that the narrator, at least at the time in which the poem is written, does not look at this experience as something bad. He tries to beutify the experience by making it a waltz. He also, by means of images and rythem, shows the conflict between the readers, or the way any other 'normal' man will look at this experiance, and how he sees it, or wants it to be seen ( although he does not show his father as completley innocent). It can also be looked upon as the Petty Herst syndrom - meaning having a 'reality' so intense and strong that one feels incapable of any other 'reality', fearing it can and will be worse.
The poem is built of four stanzas( quatrain ), each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is, in the first stanza - abab, in the second - cdcd, in the third - efef, and in the fourth - ghgh. The meter is trecet iamb ( stressed unstressed - three times per line ).
The central image in the poem is the metaphor in which the beatings are described as a waltz. The poet is led around the house, dancing - not beaten around. Which is also brought throu by the meter - trecet iamb - the beat of the waltz, thus the main image is shown through the meter as well, giving the reader more of the feeling of a dance in contrast to the 'secondery images' which are more associated with the rough experiance of a beating.