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Symbolsim of Fathes as a Common Image in Poetry

  • Date Submitted: 01/11/2015 08:44 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 69 
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The works "My Papa's Waltz" and "Those Winter Sundays" are poems that explain a child's love for his fathers, even if, like in "My Papa's Waltz," the father brings problems into the household.   Of the things the fathers do, some of them aren't always seen as the right thing to do.   Theodore Roethke, the author of " My Papa's Waltz," uses symbolism and imagery to help develop the meaning of his poem, as does Robert Hayden, the author of "These Winter Sunday."   These poems, written from different points of views, both show love for a father through the use of symbolism and imagery.  


Symbols associate two things, but their meanings are both literal and figurative.   For example a quote from Hayden's poem, "who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes (lines 12,13)."   The speaker doesn't mean that the father had literally driven out the cold, but that instead had run the cold air out by warming the house with a fire.   The poem states that the father had polished the child's "good shoes (line 13)." Literally meaning the father works all week, and still comes home to clean, cook and even rise early on his days off to try to make life better for his child.   Yet the child still spoke indifferently to him, making the father feel lowly and humble.  


Symbolism also plays a role in Roethke's poem.   The main symbol in his poem would have to be the father's waltzing.   The waltz is not known for being a difficult dance, just a dance in which someone must lead.   The child states, "Such waltzing was not easy (line 4)."   This may represent the way in which the father was leading the child, very demanding, maybe even pulling on the child at times, to hurry him up.   The last line of the poem states "then waltzed me off to bed (line 15)" which shows that as poorly as the waltz started off, it ended in a peaceful and comfortable place.   These examples help show that no symbols have absolute meanings, and by their nature, we cannot read them at face value.   The two...

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