Michael Walker

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La Valse De Mon Papa.(Translation) . - Poem by Michael Walker

Le whisky de ton haleine
Pourrait donner le vertige a un petit garcon;
Mais je perseverai comme la mort:
Une telle valse n'etait pas facile.

Nous dansames jusqu'au glissementdes casseroles
Des rayons de la cuisine;
La mine de ma mere
Ne pouvait cesser de renfrogner.

La main qui tenait mon poignet
Etait battue sur une jointure;
A chaque pas que tu manquais
Mon oreille droite frottait contre une boucle.

Tu tapais le tempo sur ma tete
D'une paume durcie de boue,
Puis tu me valsais au lit
Encore m'accrochant a ta chemise.

-' My Papa's Waltz'. Theodore Roethke(1908-1963) .
-' Poetry Speaks', p.182.Editors: Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby.

Topic(s) of this poem: family

Form: Quatrain

Poet's Notes about The Poem

You could look up Poem Hunter/ Theodore Roethke/ Poems/ 11/36, for the English.
The poet's father was unpleasant to him. The boy could smell the whisky on his breath, when he got his son to waltz in the kitchen. Sometimes the pans would slip off the kitchen shelves.There are hints to do with violence in the father: His hand was battered on one
knuckle, and the boy's right ear scraped his buckle when he missed a step. The father would beat the tempo on his son's head, his hand dirty from work, then waltz him off to bed.
The words, 'battered', knuckle', 'buckle', 'beat time on my head', have connotations of violence and unpleasantness.
Theodore Roethke won the Pulitzer Prize for his book: 'The Waking: Poems 1933-1953'. From Saginaw, Michigan, Roethke suffered from depression, for which he was hospitalized more than once, although he said that his illness gave him a deeper perspective about poetry writing. He gained in compassion.
The four quatrains are written in the rhyme pattern of, abab.
A very tidy memory poem, I think.

Comments about La Valse De Mon Papa.(Translation) . by Michael Walker

  • Rajnish Manga (4/23/2018 12:22:00 PM)

    Thanks for sharing this particular poem which reflects the trauma suffered by Theodore Roethke in his early life but that could not weaken his spirit. Thanks also for the elaborate Notes, Michael. (Report)Reply

    Michael Walker(4/23/2018 8:19:00 PM)

    You offer some perceptive comments on the poem, and on my notes, which I think hard asbout.
    ' but that could not weaken his spirit' is nicely phrased. Thanks Rajnish.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 22, 2018

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