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Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” Peotry Analysis

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Those Winter Sundays.

Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices? By Robert Hayden


Those winter Sundays is a poem about a son remembering his father. Robert Hayden possesses an astonishing skill with language and structure which make him poems deep and meaningful. It is show in this poem that love is actually present. It was communicated not by speech but by actions, specifically by building fires in the early morning that drove out the cold and polished his childs shoes. He captures the need of love from a distant father to the child but at the same time, the child admits to his own lack of empathy to his father.

The poem begins with a simple line that establishes the subject and tone of the poem, the boy’s father. The action of his father dressing is sharpened by the words “blueblack” which describes the sheer darkness of the winter cold. It then focuses on the “cracked hands” of the father that are pained from the weekday work which shows he is hardworking., but it does not keep him from making the fire that warms the house. The blueblack cold is contrasted by the image of fire. Self-sacrifice is evident here because the man disregards his own pain to warm and light the home for his family. Robert Hayden use of language is phenomenal because he uses the consistent sound of a hard ‘c’ that adds move power to the element of pain: “cracked hands that ached.” Each hard ‘c’ that is used brings recollection of the first harsh ‘c.’ The stanza finishes with the strong line “No one ever thanked him,” which show that no one realized his love for the family.

The second stanza starts with the sound of the cold splintering and breaking showing that the house begins to warm up from the fire. Once the warm is established, the father calls his son, who then starts to get dressed performing the same actions of his father which suggests a relationship that he has come to understand his childhood by finding himself in the role of the father. The stanza end in the same way the first does, with and unexpected line. The introduction of “chronic angers,” in to calm scene of the father warming the house brings little information of what the angers of the house are. It is seen that the angers are as constant as the morning and fire. Hayden once again uses the harsh ‘c’ put emphasis n the word “chronic.”

The final stanza begins with an image of emotional distance .It shows that the father polishes he child’s shoes as his own way of showing love in other words the father always tended to needs of his child. In the last two lines Hayden is talking about the child that has now grown up looking back at his life to see the real meaning of “love”. The words “love’s austere” tell the reader that love could be a harsh and complex emotion that can be expressed in many different ways. At the end of the poem the writer poses a striking rhetorical question of how he has discovered looking back to those mornings that he did not understand his father and doubted his love.

In conclusion, “Those Winter Sundays” was about the relationship of a child and his father. It was not until the speaker has grown up and realizes that his father’s love was expressed indirectly. There is now a feeling of resolution as if this poem was written to thank his father and admit his own lack of compassion and communication

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