Alliteration in "My Papas Waltz"
There is a single, clear alliterative
moment in each of the first three stanzas of the poem.
The fact that there is no alliteration in the final stanza
encourages the overall impression that there is something
not completely right within the poem.
- line 4 - "waltzing was"
The gentle sound of the repeated w contrasts
with the striking simile about death in line 3 and with
the characterization of the waltz as not easy.
The alliteration makes the waltz sound natural and tranquil,
but there are clear indications to the contrary.
- lines 7/8 - "countenance / Could"
The sharp sound of the repeated c gives a
hard edge to an otherwise graceful-sounding stanza. The
fact that this example of alliteration is contained within
a brief description of the speakers mother is a
warning, or signal of danger, like the same hard c
in the parental command careful!
- line 9 - "hand that held"
As in the first stanza, the gentle, nearly protective
sound of this alliteration, hand . . . held,
is in sharp contrast with the battered knuckle and scraped
ear that dominate the imagery of this stanza. The aggressive
actions of the speakers father are at least partially
offset by this gentleness.
- lines 9/10 - "wrist/Was"
This is not an example of alliteration; alliteration is
about sounds, not just the first letters of consecutive