Do you remember those times when you’re listening to music or reading, and a memory just randomly comes out of nowhere? Well, that happened to me when reading what seemed to be two identical poems about life, one being “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, and the other “Resentment” by Levi The Poet. But to my surprise after a little research, I found that the two poems had things in common and things that differed. The things in which these two poems have in common are the use of rhythm, tone, and imagery, while the dissimilarities are figures of speech and rhyme.
First, the rhythm in these two delightful poems are essentially corresponding to one another. It is apparent in both poems that there is an iambic arrangement in the context. On lines 4 and 5 Levi is clearly using this method, “The first poem I ever wrote / was about San Francisco, and the homeless and what I was told” within this one could notice that these lines of poetry are following an unstressed, stressed syllable guideline. In the exact same way as Levi’s poem it appears in Roethke’s poem on lines 5 and 6 where it states, “We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf” this shows once again the accented and unaccented technique of speech. Therefore the similarity of rhythm in these two poems is a primary point to be made.
Additionally, imagery is another likeness of Theodore Roethke’s and Levi The Poet’s poems. The imagery in these poems expressed with the uttermost skill of the poet can make the reader visualise pictures of what the poem’s characters are experiencing, leaving the reader with a feeling of sadness. In “Resentment” this can be observed on lines 69 and 70 where it says, “that they bar the gates of hell for me and heave’n’s doors are open / as wide as my sweet Savior’s arms were stretched out when he died” This ideal image of one that has done so much for something, and is repaid with death gives almost an overwhelming feeling of sadness and regret that we can do nothing to save even the most beloved of things. On the same note, one could have the same experiences to those from Levi’s poem as to those of Roethke’s poem. This can be revealed on lines 10, 11 and 14 in which it claims, “ The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle” and “with a palm caked hard by dirt” These mental images appear to give the idea that the object that these statements are aimed towards has had to do a lot of unpleasant work, which has accumulated into some sort of aggression. But no matter which poem, or character you may be comparing it is still clearly perceptible that the use of imagery between the two poems is an honorable piece of the likeness pie.
Another similarity of this pair of poems is the tone that the writers have shown from actions of the characters. In “My Papa’s Waltz”, Roethke seems to have constructed a father and a son character. In certain sections of his poem it could be seen that the son is trying to have a more intimate relationship with his father. One of these sections can be viewed on lines 15 and 16, “Then waltzed me off to bed / Still clinging to your shirt.” Here it draws the picture of a father taking his child to bed and the child restricting, and one could assume that this child’s actions are taken in hope to be able to spend even the smallest amount of time with it’s father. Another situation in “Resentment” also gives an example of someone who longs for something in a life category. This example can be found on lines 40-42, “If there is so much joy to be had, then tell me where I went wrong, / because for all the times I’ve tried to satisfy my mom, / I still cannot write a joyful song.” From the portion of this poem that is displayed it presents the idea of a person who is desperately hungry to have a source of joy in his, or her’s life. The writer has given this character an overpowering want for change in it’s life, so much so that this personality is willing heed correction. Which can then make the reader feel a connection with this character, and like Levi’s poem could bring sadness and other emotions to the reader. This direct association in tone between Roethke’s and Levi’s poem is another subject to be considered when analyzing these two poems.
Nevertheless, the use in figures of speech in these two poems contradict one another. In both poems the use of this method is present but not equivalent. From within Levi’s poem one could notice two kinds of this unilateral type of speech which can be recognized on lines 1 and 44 where it says, “It’s like the spirit answered all of my prayers, and now I resent him for it.” as well as “but November threw us in to a whirlwind again, and come January I knew it” From the first chosen line one might notice the use of the word , like. This word shows us a comparison, in the case of “It’s like the spirit answered....” it is a simile because it uses the word, like, and compares one thing to another. But where Levi says “threw us in to a whirlwind” (44) this is considered a metaphor, because instead of using words, it gives the example that they were thrown into a the whirlwind. But one could assume that they weren't literally thrown into a whirlwind, but was just faced with hard times. Therefore it is a metaphor. In Roethke’s poem one could find a similar use of figures of speech, but unlike Levi he uses only one type of this speech. This event is shown on line 3 in which it says, “But I hung on like death” from what has been learned from above we now know that the word “like” in this poem, as well as the hint of comparison, represents a simile. So although they both may share the use of figurative speech they still counteract one another by unevenly using these types of figurative wording in their poems, but this is still one hefty reason to reflect on when contrasting these two poems.
Last but not least, Levi The Poet and Theodore Roethke also challenge each other by having different methods of rhyme. In Levi’s poem it follows a couplet idea, while Roethke takes charge of the alliteration idea. On lines 9 - 12 in “My Papa’s Waltz” this pattern is displayed, “The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle; / At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle.” At the end of every line one could take note that it follows a ABAB rhyming arrangement. In an unlike way, certain points in “Resentment” pursue the opposite diagram, which can be seen on lines 83 - 86, “that shame has lost it’s place, / that Jesus Christ endured the curse and scorned all the disgrace’/ and atoned before the throne as death fled without a trace, / That I Might enter in and look full on his wonderful face.” This also accompanies the idea of rhyming at the end of each line, but it does so with a different organization. Each ending word finishes with the addition of, ace, which then unlike Roethke’s poem gives the AABB pattern. This is another important component when inspecting these two works for discongruities.
In completion, “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Resentment” have multiple things in common, along with several diversities. The use of the iambic pentameter style in both Roethke’s and Levi’s poems are evident through the pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables. In a like manner, both poets showcase imagery in their work that could reveal to the reader a sense of mournful emotions. Also, the tone in which these writers have infused into their poems are very similar in the idea that they are both looking for something in their lives. But,in contrast, Roethke uses similes in his poem, while Levi uses both metaphorical speech and similes. The rhyme in these poems also fails to conjoin, which is seen through how Roethke’s poem follows an A B A B motive and Levi’s poem contains an A A and B B idea. Now, as these poems for proof, it is evident that no matter how much things may look alike, everything is special in it’s own way.
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