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TOASTTT Strategy for Poetry Analysis

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1 TOASTTT Strategy for Poetry Analysis
Title Consider the title and what it could mean for the poem. What do you think the poem is about based on the title? O Own Words In your own words, paraphrase the poem is about. Consider who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and whether there is an occasion for the poem. A Analyze poetic devices Note poetic devices like imagery, figures of speech like similes, metaphors, personification, and symbols. Also note sound devices like alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, and rhyme S Shifts Identify shifts (changes) in perspective by looking for key words (but, yet, however, although), stanza divisions, and changes in line or stanza length Tone LIDDS – language, images, details, diction, sentence structure (helps to assess the author’s attitude, as well as the mood created by the reader) Title (again) Consider the title again. What does it now reveal about the poem? Theme What is the human experience or condition put forth by the poem? Consider what is taking place.

2 TOASTTT – My Papa’s Waltz
T - Title My thoughts on the title… My Papa’s Waltz The title implies that the narrator will reflect on a dance, waltz, that either his or her father or grandfather does. Perhaps this dance is special because it is a fond childhood memory.

3 Own Words – My Papa’s Waltz
Stanza 1 The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. Regardless of the whiskey smell of papa’s breath, the speaker hung on and danced along.

4 Own Words – My Papa’s Waltz
Stanza 2 We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother’s countenance Could not unfrown itself. The dance was rowdy and playful, so much so that they rattled the pans. The mother, however, was unhappy about the scene in her kitchen.

5 Own Words – My Papa’s Waltz
Stanza 3 The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. As the father and child danced hand in hand, the child noticed that the father’s hand was worn (probably by hard work or living); when the father stumbled, the child’s ear hit the father’s belt buckle.

6 Own Words – My Papa’s Waltz
Stanza 4 You beat time on my head With a palm caked by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt. As they danced, the father, who had not cleaned up after work (or going out to a bar), kept a beat by tapping the child’s head; they danced, regardless of physical difficulty, all the way to the child’s bedroom.

7 Analyze Poetic Devices
Sensory images are used throughout the poem to bring reality to the scene and to reveal the loving relationship between father and child. Smell – “whiskey on your breath” Sight – “unfrown,” “hand…battered on one knuckle,” “palm caked by dirt” Touch – “hung on like death,” “hand held wrist,” “right ear scraped buckle,” “beat time on head,” “clinging to your shirt.”

8 Analyze Poetic Devices (cont.)
Rhyme Scheme – This poem has an ABAB rhyme scheme; stanza 1 – breath, dizzy, death, easy. Simile – “hung on like death” Dizzy and easy are examples of slant or near rhyme. This simile shows the tight grip the child had so that he and his father could dance. The emphasis is on the importance of the ritual and relationship.

9 Shifts While there is no distinct shift in attitude in the poem, there is a change in the child’s attitude about his mother and father. He excuses his father’s tipsy state while he disapproves of his mother’s frown. He “hung on like death” until they “waltzed off to bed” which shows a bond, while he views his mother more harshly by stating “mother’s countenance could not unfrown itself.”

10 Shifts (cont.) There are four stanzas in this “My Papa’s Waltz” each containing four lines.

11 Tone Language and images show a sense of tenderness and love between father and child; however, the images for some might be troubling since the father is clearly drunk which in reality could have been painful. “hung on,” “clinging to,” “we romped” “whiskey on breath”,” “every step you missed,” “ear scraped buckle”

12 Tone (cont.) The author’s attitude is one of love for his father. It is obvious that he enjoys this playful ritual. Sentence Structure and rhythm – there is a playful, steady rhythm that makes this poem enjoyable. “beat time on my head,” “romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf”

13 Title (again) The word “My” in My Papa’s Waltz stands out after reading the poem. The child is proud of his dad and the bond that they have. My initial thoughts on the title were relatively accurate in that I predicted that this would be about a special dance between father and child.

14 Theme The universal theme of this poem could be that parent and child bonds are important and create lasting memories.

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