Father Poems

In examining the four father poems, I chose to talk about
“Breakings”, “Black Walnuts”, and “My Papa’s
Waltz”. In each of the three poems the speaker reminisces about memories he
has with his father that take place when the speaker was young. The three texts
discuss the father’s importance in the son’s maturation. In the poem entitled
“My Papa’s Waltz,” the author is writing about a son and his father
doing some sort of activity. Throughout the poem some negative sounding words
are used to describe certain events in the poem. I happened to choose the
positive side because of the ending. The poem reflects a positive feeling at the
end, “Then waltzed me off to bed / still clinging to your
shirt.”(15-16). This sounds like the boy fell asleep while waltzing with
his father. In this particular poem the father has been drinking, “The
whiskey on you breath / could make a small boy dizzy”(1-2). That line
combined with the word death (3) gives the poem a starting bad feeling. It makes
it sound like the father has been drinking and something bad is happening. The
introduction of the word waltzing opens a new though pattern though. A waltz is
a certain type of dance but when used in this line “Such waltzing was not
easy”(4) it could mean a number of things. Since we know not of the exact
activity that is happening a substitution of activities would work. To him it is
hard because he is small, “At every step you missed / My right ear scraped
a buckle”(11-12) and obviously weaker than the father. These alone will
Smith 2 make any activity harder for him then the father. “We romped until
the pans slid from the kitchen shelf”(5-6). When I think of romping, I
think of a little boy and a puppy romping in the grassy fields. No different in
this case. The father is romping with his son. “My mothers countenance /
could not un-frown itself.”(7-8). The mother isn’t happy with what the guys
are doing. In general mother always seem to disapprove of rough housing. The
boy’s father does have a job, which is important to the son in maturing. To
mature a child needs nourishment. To get nourishment, the parents have to have a
job in which they can earn money to support the child. “The hand that held
my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle”(9-10). “With a palm caked hard
by dirt”(14). His father has a job that requires labor. Not only does his
knuckle have a scraped, but also his hands are dirty. This poem suggests that
the child waited till the father returned home from work late at night,
“Then waltzed me off to bed / Still clinging to your shirt.”(15-16). A
child needs his father and proves it by waiting up for him. In any good
father/child relationship, doing activities together is important. In the poem
“Black Walnuts”, the child has wonderful memories of his father. The
poem starts with the memory in the first line, “The year my father used the
car for hulling was the best.”(1-2). The word best is the number one thing;
Nothing tops it. Again near the end of the poem, “Happy over
windfall”(17-18) is describing how the father is feeling now it is said.

“Talked of how good the tender meats would taste”(18-19). Again more
happy feelings this time pointing towards a future event, but still a positive
feeling. In every father son relationship the father is important in the sons
maturation. This son has an excellent relationship with his father. He can bond
with him doing activities they love Smith 3 to do. “We cobbled the drive /
with walnuts gathered in baskets and cardboard boxes,”(2-3). The son shows
no negative feelings towards this activity. The fact that they do it repeatedly,
“forward and backward, / time and again until the air was bitter to breathe
“(5-6) proves that both of them love what they are doing. In a normal
situation around a work place, most people would stop working if the air were
difficult to breathe but not these two. However, it’s not what they are doing
that they love, it is each other they love. Evidence of this is near the end of
the poem. ” I wished with all my heart that he might live
forever”(20). This line indicates that the son does not want to part from
his father. This line also goes in the direction that the boy’s father is past
away when the speaker is speaking. Breaking a son can mean teaching him the way,
another important aspect of father/son relationships. The father is trying to
give his son some background; “my father/ tried to teach me horses, land,
and sky.”(1-2), in making a living. “I studied how to be my father’s
son.”(4). The son tried to learn how to do all these things, but didn’t
like it, “Long before I first left home,”(1). “Every summer I
hated my father as I drove hot horses through dusty grass”(7-8). The
feeling the reader gets from this line is negative. The boy is working out in a
hot field, hot because the horses are hot, and it seems they don’t get much rain
if it is dusty. Consequently the son left the farm in search of other
opportunities, “and so I broke with him, and left the farm for other
work,”(9-10). This is normal for the son to break from his parents. It is
normal part of the maturing process to make it on his own or at least try. The
son soon encounters things he can not handle. “Where unfamiliar weather /
broke on my head an unexpected storm / and things I had Smith 4 not studied came
to pass.”(10-12). He has not been broken into these things he can not
handle. “So nothing changes, nothing stays the same,”(13). Wherever
the speaker goes, there are things he doesn’t like. In addition, wherever the
speaker ventures, nothing is the same. There are different unexpected storms in
all parts of living and working. The son returns home, “I have returned
from a broken home / alone, to ask for a job breaking horses.”(14-15). The
speaker returns from a home he has been accustomed to living in without his
parents. He returns alone in meaning that he has not learned anything new. The
speaker can’t make it anywhere else so he returns home to go back to doing what
he thought he hated, but realized it wasn’t so bad compared to that he could be
doing. The memory in this poem is positive as it states near the end, “I
watch a colt on a long line making / tracks in dust, and think of the kinds of
breakings / there are, and the kind of restraining forces.”(16-18). The
speaker is thinking of his past, “tracks in dust”(17) and the
different kinds of jobs, “breakings”(17), and the limitations and
responsibilities, “restraining forces”(18) each job has. In
conclusion, the three father poems each include different aspects of father/son
relationships. The father must have a way to support his child, they need to
enjoy activities together, and the father should be able to teach things to his
son. Although some of these poems show negative words, the writer chose to write
about them in a positive manner. These were important to the speaker obviously
they cared enough to write about them. If any of these were not important or
negative, why would the writer write?

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