Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” is a poem that has a lot to say in a small amount of space. It uses one event to describe a father’s whole relationship with his son. “Those Winter Sundays” is a poem written for Robert Hayden’s father. Although at first, the poem does not seem to be a great tribute to his father, Hayden’s admiration and love for his father become apparent as we look deeper.
In this poem, Hayden uses many descriptive words to set the scene for his work (e.g. blueblack cold, cracked hands, banked fires blaze). His vivid words make me conjure up visions in my mind of this hard working father up alone in the cold darkness. When Hayden writes “cracked hands that ached” (Roberts 759), he is using the “cracked hands” as a symbol for hard work and a symbol for all the pain and discomfort the man is willing to go through for his family. Hayden described sounds as well as images in the same descriptive way when he writes “I awoke and heard the cold splintering, breaking” (Roberts 759). Maybe what the boy heard was really the fire crackling, or ice melting off of the windows. Either way, th
The element of self-sacrifice is clear in the description of the father"tms "cracked hands" 2(Roberts 759) and how he disregards his own pain to warm and light the home for his family. The warm house on the winter Sundays served as a symbol for the father"tms love for his son, although the son did not make this connection until later in his life. "What did I know, what did I know of love"tms austere and lonely offices" (Roberts 759). But, there is no judgment made as to whether or not the indifference was justified, or could have been helped. With the presence of anger in the home, Hayden implies that as much as his indifference to his father may have been self-protective, it was also ungrateful. As he grew up, Hayden realized that his father was totally self-sacrificing. is choice of symbolism is used to show the power of the father he had the power to "break" the cold, and to "drive it out" for the sake of those he cared for. In stark contrast to the seemingly loving act of warming the home, is the reference to the emotional distance between the father and son. Realizing that when he was young, he did not understand his father"tms harsh way of showing love, he has come to not only accept it but to appreciate it. It was clear in his writing that anger was a constant in the home, as much a part of the mornings as the fire itself. As a child, Hayden doubted his father"tms love, but once he was older, he realized that love is often expressed silently and indirectly. 3The words "austere" and "lonely" also carry a lot of meaning. The repetition of "What did I know" adds emphasis to this thought, like Hayden is full of regret, wishing he had known, and had thanked his father. More details of this condition are not given, and I was left to guess what the source of the anger was.