Poetry often expresses the deepest feelings, memories, and emotions of the poet. When the poem contains shared experience of moments shared between parents and children, it is often heightened in emotion and feeling. One of the strongest emotional bonds is between a father and son. In two poems about this bond, Theodore Roethke's My Papa's Waltz and Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, we see the strength of such emotional bonds illustrated. However, we also see a further element that links each of these poems, despite their differences in style and content. In both My Papa's Waltz and Do Not Go Gentle, we see sons who are figuratively and literally trying to cling to their fathers.
In both My Papa's Waltz and Do Not Go Gentle, the speakers are sons sharing an experience with their father. In My Papa's Waltz, the speaker shares his memories of how his inebriated father used to waltz him around the house, often to the dismay of his mother: "We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf; / My mother's countenance / Could not unfrown itself" (Kirszner and Mandell, 779). As a child, the speaker remembers he had to hand on to his father for dear life during these "waltzes," spontaneous romps during which the speaker would often scraped by a "buckle" or endured his father "Óbeat[ing] time on [his] head" (Kirszner et al., 779).
In providing the story of his father's "waltzes," the speaker remembers distinctly unique features and traits of his father. He remembers his father's knuckle was "battered" and his "palm caked hard by dirt" (Kirszner et al., 779). Such images serve to remind the speaker of his cherished memories of waltzing around the house with his father, whose inebriated breath "could make a small boy dizzy" (Kirszner et al., 778). The dance would end with the father waltzing his son to his bedroom, with the son "Still clinging to [his] shirt" (Kirszner et al., 779). This ima