Leviza Murtazayeva- Explication Draft

Leviza Murtazayeva

Professor Scanlan ENG1121

Explication of two lines from the poem “My Papa’s Waltz”

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.

 

Quote: “You beat time on my head

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

Then waltzed me off to bed

Still clinging to your shirt.”

 

Explication: In this line from the poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, the speaker expresses deep emotion towards his relationship with his father. By using a metaphorical comparison of “you beat time on my head,” the phrase “beat time” means that time is passing by and the father is still beating the speaker or the child with his “palm caked hard by dirt,” suggests that the father is a hard worker, maybe a gardener since hands are caked in dirt. “Caked hard by dirt” suggests that the father is working with his hands and the metaphor “caked” means that the hands are not clean but are fully dirty, touching his child. On the other hand, the use of the word “beat” in this event is unfitting. If this line were truly referring to a dance which is a sign of gentle and romance, a more proper and gentle word to use would be “kept”, as in keeping time rather than “beat” or waste time.

The lines show a sign that such an event was not pleasing for the speaker and he felt uncomfortable. The line also connotes that there is abuse present from the drunk father who is being rough with his child. But at the same time, the child seems not to go away from his father but stays connected to him when the speaker adds “still clinging to your shirt.” This strengthens the idea that the relationship between the father and son is at the same time very intense but still, there is a deep connection and love towards each other, since “waltz” is used herein a soft and gentle manner. Furthermore, the line that says “Still clinging to your shirt” can be a very powerful demonstration of the love that the son has for his father. The son does not want his father to leave him and clings on to him to stay with him as long as he can before he goes back to bed. This poem is an actual presentation of where an author uses his words to express many different meanings to a reader. The word choice of these two lines brings a reader an idea of the speaker experiencing a great unease and disturbance from his intoxicated father that is rough with him, the author expresses that is an ironic way because the word choice mostly suggests the opposite of what it is happening.

1 Comment

  1. Marchella Prado

    1–Is the title of the poem and full author’s name provided in the first or second sentence? Be specific if something is missing.

    – Yes

    2–Does the student provide the two lines he or she will explicate?

    – Yes

    3–What poetry terms does the student examine?

    – Levisa examines metaphor, connotation (“connotes”), and lastly from what I observed was diction because she talks about word choice towards the end of her essay.

    4–Copy and paste your two favorite sentences from the students essay. Then explain why you like them. (example: not only is this an example of the college sentence, this sentence highlights an important poetry term (metaphor) in a very clear way–I get it completely)

    – “ But at the same time, the child seems not to go away from his father but stays connected to him when the speaker adds “still clinging to your shirt.” I like this sentence because a good point was brought up. When you read the poem, sounds like an aggressive relationship between the father and son but then again, the child clings on. Makes you question the relationship that the father and son really have.

    – “ Furthermore, the line that says “Still clinging to your shirt” can be a very powerful demonstration of the love that the son has for his father. ” I like this sentence as well because it goes back to the previous sentence I mentioned. After reading the poem, that line “still clinging to your shirt” expresses how the son feels towards the father. Could it possibly be a bad thing ?

    5–Copy and paste two sentences that are confusing. Then explain what is confusing about them. (example: you may have mixed up the terms alliteration and assonance, please check to make sure you have the right term for repeated vowel sounds)

    – “ This poem is an actual presentation of where an author uses his words to express many different meanings to a reader.” This sentence could have been said differently. First, mention the actual author because it sounds like you’re talking in general instead of the actual poem you’re explicating. Second, you should be more specific. Explain which words, especially the ones that caught your attention to the point you’re trying to make.

    – “… the word choice mostly suggests the opposite of what it is happening.” I think mentioning the opposite of what is happening would help the reader get a clearer understanding of your point.

    6–Make two concrete suggestions. (example: expand the range of connotations rather than name one connotation; example: instead of using the verb “like” three time in the first paragraph, consider different varying the idea by using “love” or “can relate to”; example: when you revise this, change the lower case “i” to “I”–Prof. Scanlan will definitely say something about that.)

    – Give a little short summary of the poem, instead of jumping right into the two lines.

    – Mention diction ( word choice ) in your introduction.

    You did a good job Levisa, I hope I helped a little and good-luck on any revisions you make to your draft !

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