All posts tagged: poetry

Finding Alcohol Abuse in a Poem: Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”

  In an earlier entry, one of our writers wrote a two-part series about the effects of alcoholism on a family, and naturally the first focus was on children. In reading the entry I was most struck by the fact that children may feel guilt; that they might in some way feel responsible for their parent’s or sibling’s addiction. The range of emotions that a child might feel is startling, and the complexity not to be discounted. Theodore Roethke is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet who writes a lot about childhood, often from the voice of a child. Born in 1908, he suffered from episodic bouts of depression which, coupled with his alcohol abuse, threatened his career as a poet and teacher. As a student of poetry, I studied his Roethke’s work in high school. One of his most famous pieces – and a personal favorite of mine – is “My Papa’s Waltz,” reproduced below: My Papa’s Waltz The whiskey on your breath    Could make a small boy dizzy;    But I hung on like death:    …