The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” is a work of literature that has a variety of meanings, unique to each reader's perspective and interpretation. This poem is similar to that of “The Lady and the Tiger”, in how both works of literature have no definite meaning, and they are up to the reader to determine. In my opinion, “My Papa’s Waltz” is full of metaphors that angle the meaning towards child abuse.
The first line of the poem is peculiar. “The whiskey in your breath,” indicates that the father has at least had a drink, but is in no way an indication of him being drunk. The next line however, secures the fact that he has had more than just a drink, “could make a small boy dizzy.” Therefore, so far we have “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy.” It takes a fair amount of alcohol to make someone dizzy. There are several different types of drinkers. Some people become a delusional happy, some insanely depressed, and others have intensified anger. This father appears to become angry.
Angry drinkers are said to be some of the worst ones. Line 13, “You beat time on my head.” Some say the father is keeping the beat of the music on his head, but that would be IN his head instead. “You beat time on my head,” sounds like the child is being wacked on the head, in a rhythm. “The hand that held my wrist,” when one is waltzing wrists are not held. “At every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle,” in line 11 and 12, is an indicator of the father’s belt. Missing a step would affect both dancers, not just one.
“We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf,” in no way indicates waltzing. The waltz is an elegant ballroom dance. No pans should be sliding. However, if they were line dancing, as in Footloose, then that is a different story. However, waltzing is not a rough dance, it is slow and graceful not fast and clumsy. “My mother’s countenance could not unfrown itself.” This is an indicator of the mother being upset. She is standing unable to do...