This week’s poems were centered around the importance of family and how there can be a struggle to maintain peace within a household. This theme is illustrated in “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, and “The Video” by Fleur Adcock. “(Untitled)” illustrates a father’s disappointment he feels in how he treats his eleven year old son, “My Papa’s Waltz” demonstrates the affect of alcohol consumption by parents on their children, and “The Video” by Fleur Adcock shows how something joyful, such as the birth of a second child, can be harmful for other children.
Meinke in his poem “(Untitled)” uses vivid imagery to share the disappointment he feels about how he raised his son, Peter. For example, he uses phrases such as “large and vulnerable eyes” and “pale freckled back/ bent in defeat” to illustrate the innocence his son has in response to his father’s violent actions (3, 5-6). The use of the word vulnerable and defeat prove that it is not the son’s fault that the speaker abuses him. Meinke furthers this use of imagery to describe his son before he was abused. He states that he was “beautiful and fair” to show that he no longer is the happy, loving son that he was before he was abused (13). The tones of these words also demonstrates the author’s disapproval for his actions against his son. The author chose to use phrases such as “scarred through weakness” to prove that he is ashamed how he abused his son and his desires to try to help his son, and himself, become better individuals (8). Through imagery and tone, the author allows the reader to picture a speaker who is humiliated of his abuse towards his son and his desperate desire to better their relationship.
Roethke in his poem “My Papa’s Waltz” uses rhyme and imagery to illustrate a complex relationship a son has with his alcoholic father. The rhyme scheme of this poem illustrates a dance—in each stanza the rhyme scheme is abab, which in my opinion resembles a dance. This dance however, is not safe for the son. The author uses phrases such as “but I hung on like death” and “you beat time on my head” to illustrate that although the image of a father dancing with son could be a positive, the dance this son does is dangerous for him (4, 13). The use of the words death and beat illustrate that this romp that the father and son perform around the kitchen is dangerous for the son. However, this poem illustrates that even though his father’s alcoholism is a danger, he still loves him, which can be seen through the title. The author uses the word papa instead of father because it has a more loving tone. Roethke’s poem, through literary elements, illustrate how complex the relationship with father and son can be when there are issues such as alcoholism poisoning the relationship.
Adcock’s poem “The Video” uses word choice to illustrate a girl’s jealousy that she has at the birth of her younger sister. For example she uses the phrases “she watched Laura come out, and then/ in reverse, she made her go back in” (11-12). This illustrates that Ceri was very resentful of the birth of her sister and wished that she could be an only child again. The author also uses phrases such as “move over a bit” to illustrate the child’s feeling of inferiority to the birth of her younger sister (4). The tone of all of these phrases demonstrates the speaker’s desires to return to life before her younger sister was born. Through tone and word choice, Adcock illustrates a great challenge a family has in dealing with the birth of another child.
I feel that by volunteering every week at Guilford Middle Elementary School, I am more aware of family issues and struggles that everyone, including myself face. Each week I, along with two of our classmates, help out Mr. Ted Smith, a social studies teacher who coaches the National Academic League as well as tutoring students after school. Many of these students have family issues at home and I feel that by tutoring these kids, I can somehow make a difference in their day, even if its helping them solve a math problem. Though we all have issues in our lives, it’s the positive aspects of life that make it worth living. Last week when I was helping one student out with his homework, I felt so much satisfaction every time he was excited that he got a problem correct. By helping other people, we can improve not only their lives but our own.