My Papa's Waltz

By: Theodore Roethke


Theodore Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan. His father was a German immigrant who owned and ran a greenhouse. Theodore read a lot as a child, he suffered from abandonment and a lack of self esteem which contributed to him striving for acceptance from his peers. When he was only 14 his father died of cancer and his uncle committed suicide. He attended college at the University of Michigan. His depression and struggle for finding the truth gave him a tough life but helped influence future generations of poets to pursue their dreams.


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10 Fun Facts about Theodore Roethke

1. Born in Michigan

2. Attended the University of Michigan

3. Most popular volume of poetry was the Far Field

4. He suffered from Manic Depression and was expelled from UM

5. He wrote The Lost Son and Other Poems in 1948

6. Received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

7. 2 National Book Awards

8. 1959 Pennsylvania University awarded him with the prestigious Bolligen Prize.

9. He taught at University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and other colleges on Pennsylvania and Vermont, before moving to Washington and finishing his teaching at University of Washington.

10. He died in 1963 of a heart attack at 55.
My Papa's Waltz (Favorite Poem Project)

My Papa’s Waltz By Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath

Could make a small boy dizzy;

But I hung on like death:

Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother’s countenance

Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist

Was battered on one knuckle;

At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

Then waltzed me off to bed

Still clinging to your shirt.

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By: Ryan Jurek