Analyzing Poetic Devices: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"

Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" are widely-anthologized, contemporary American poems. Both poems also are featured in the EDSITEment-reviewed Library of Congress's "Favorite Poem Project," indicating Americans' love for these two powerful and moving poems about father-son relationships.

In this lesson, students will study both the content and the form of these two poems, closely analyzing how each poem's use of poetic devices helps to convey and emphasize the poem's meaning. Not only will this lesson enable students to analyze "Those Winter Sundays" and "My Papa's Waltz" in an in-depth way, it will provide them with a deeper understanding of certain poetic devices and the intricate relationship between a poem’s content and its form.

Guiding Questions

How do Robert Hayden and Theodore Roethke incorporate poetic devices to convey meaning in "Those Winter Sundays" and "My Papa's Waltz"?

How does the form of each poem relate to its content?

Learning Objectives

Discuss poetic meter and rhythm and its relationship to theme.

Compare and contrast poems theme via active class discussion.

Provide a well-supported, written analysis of the relationship between a poem's form and its content.