Poem Assignment: The Unknown Citizen by W.H.Auden and My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke

Discuss the elements of the Haiku, Japanese poetic form, and then write 3 haiku as a part of this exercise.

1. A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry composed of three lines. The elements of the haiku are structure or form, content, and imagery. Structure refers to the three-line stanza of the haiku. The first line has five syllables; the second line has seven syllables and the third line has five syllables; thereby, having a total of seventeen syllables (Jones-Shoeman, par 3). The content is the topic being discussed in the poem which is usually about nature, color or impression. Imagery refers to the picture created in the minds of the readers.
Haiku #1 – Tears
Petals of flowers drop
Quiet thoughts I remember
My tears slowly fall.
Haiku #2 – Flowers
The sweet scent of flowers
Exudes peace to my tired mind
Blessings from above.
Haiku #3 – Beach
Waves rush to the shore
Bringing the sand to my feet
Tickles my small toes.

2. Although written in 1940, is the essence of the poem still valid in our times, and if so, why? Give specific examples to support your points. (The Unknown Citizen by W.H.Auden)
One does not think that the essence of the poem is still valid in our times today because it seems that the individual is described in the poem is one who simply conformed to the dictates of the government. He obeyed all the laws of society blindly. The citizen described does not enjoy the freedom which we enjoy today. He does not exercise his right to question what the government is dictating. Individuals today are not as submissive as the one described in the poem. People today are free to express their opinions without being branded as a radical or an insurgent. The government is described in the poem is one which is indifferent to its citizens’ welfare. What is important is that they follow the laws of the state. This is not true in our times today because the government shows more concern with its citizens through health care benefits, employment opportunities, education, etc.

3. Love, hate, indifference, regret, nostalgia… What is the tone of the voice in My Papas Waltz? Use “evidence” found in the poem itself to support your ideas.
The tone of the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” is quite sad because as can be observed, the father dances roughly with his child. In the second sentence of the first stanza, it mentions that the breath of the father smells like whiskey that could make a child dizzy. The roughness of the dance of the father is further evidenced by the scraping of the child’s right ear from the buckle of his dad. Furthermore, because of the violent movement of the dance, the pans in the kitchen fall. It could also be concluded that there is some form of child abuse being suffered by the child. The tone is sad because even if the mother sees that the child is being hurt by the dance, she cannot do anything to stop it. This is seen in the second stanza which mentions that the mother is frowning at what is happening.

Works Cited
Jones-Shoeman, Cynthia. “What is haiku? Elements of this type of Japanese poetry.” 26 June 2010. suite101.com. Web. 12 July 2012 .

You Might Also Like