Study Guide

My Papa's Waltz Setting

By Theodore Roethke


This poem takes place in, or at least near, the kitchen of this family's home. The poem was written in the 1940s, so we can assume it is set some time before then. The family probably didn't have a television, but maybe had a radio or a piano. Perhaps a waltz is actually playing on the radio as the father and son take off dancing. Mom, however, doesn't seem too happy that her husband and son are messing up her kitchen, making all the pots and pans fall off the shelves and clatter all over the floor.