A Son’s Belated Apology to his Father
An Analysis of Those Winter Sundays
Those Winter Sundays Robert Hayden
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?
Robert Hayden’s poem, those winter Sundays is a description of how he regretted his treatment of his father. His father worked tirelessly to serve his family, yet there was no recognition of his labour, “Speaking indifferently to him”[stanza 3 line 1]. The boy remembers specifically ignoring his father’s waking call and speaking to him in a cold and indifferent voice. Hayden uses a mixture of both the written word and imagery to recreate those winter Sundays and the pain that his father endured to serve his family.
Hayden begins the poem with the words “Sundays too”[stanza 1 line 1] to set the mood of the poem. Sunday is considered a day of rest, yet the boy’s father braves the harsh and unforgiving winter to cut firewood. Hayden continues to state that his father rose before dawn to warm the house so that his family would wake to a warm home, “my father got up early and put his clothes”[stanza 1 line 2-3]. Hayden adds an element of pain through the sounds of select words. He utilizes the “c” sound, which adds the sound of physical pain. This is especially evident in the line, “cracked hands that ached”[stanza 1 line 3]. Lines two and three continue to describe the conditions in which the father had to work in. The “blueblack cold”[stanza 1 line 2] serves as imagery...
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