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 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 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 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?