Comparison of "My Father's Song" and "My Papa's Waltz".

Essay by blackvirusHigh School, 11th gradeA, December 2005

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Family relationships are not always the loving embraces seen on the Disney Channel. Some can become more malicious, such as those seen on Fox. The poems "My Father's Song," by Simon J. Ortiz, and "My Papa's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke, are two similar poems written about a father and child relationship. The two poems are spoken from the child's point of view during a memorable event. As well as their similarities, these two poems have their differences. Although both poems concern the relationship between a father and his son, they differ on tone, imagery, and figurative language.

In "My Father's Song," the main tone is nostalgia. "My Papa's Waltz" is a stark contrast, in that there is a harsh tone. In "My Father's Song," the nostalgic tone comes through in some of the word choices. In the first stanza, the speaker remembers his father's voice. He describes his experience:

"I miss my father tonight.

His voice, the slight catch,

the depth from his thin chest,

the tremble of emotion

in something he has just said

to his son, his song:" (Ortiz 2-7)

The speaker can remember even the tiniest detail about his father, down to "the slight catch, / the depth from his thin chest" (3-4). The child cared very deeply about his father, even more tonight, and is thinking about him. The tone of the second poem is established by the diction used by the author. Upon first glance, the tone of the poem is amusing. The scene that the reader's mind forms is rather comical, with the child holding on for dear life as his chuckling father spins him around. However, the lines "At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle" (Roethke 11-12) suggest that the boy is being injured by this...