Those Winter Sundays Essay

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In Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays,” Hayden compares the ignorance of youth to the love and sacrifice of a father to illustrate his childhood relationship with his father. The imagery and symbolism throughout the poem allows Hayden to explore the mindset of a child, and what love in a family means. Using background information on the author, Robert Hayden’s difficult, traumatic family life growing up adds to these ideas and helps to reach a deeper understanding of the poem and the author’s message: not all love is hugs and kisses; sometimes love is making sacrifices for the ones you love, even if they fail to realize your actions. The poem begins very bleak and melancholy. The speaker notices (what is assumed…show more content…
As the house is warmed from, “blue-black cold,” to “fires [blazing],” and the speaker at the time is getting out of bed, he comes to appreciate his father more. Looking back on this moment, the speaker’s tone is almost apologetic, asking, “What did I know, what did I know,” as he regrets how unappreciative he was of his father, “who had driven out the cold and polished [his] good shoes as well.” The speaker’s father went through seemingly extreme lengths to provide for his family, even polishing his son’s shoes, an act not commonly done by a fatherly figure. However, the speaker’s realization of the lack of thanking his father is contrasted by Hayden’s last line, “of love’s austere and lonely offices.” This explores what it means to be a father: is it expected of a father to make sacrifices, even without recognition for them? Offices in this context means a sense of duty or commitment, which is saying that the speaker’s father had to likely suffer through those harsh Sundays to warm the house, and likely many other silent hardships, as he made a commitment to being a father. Is it the speaker’s fault for not appreciating his father, or is the societal role between a father and his family, and more importantly in this poem, his son, to blame? Was the child supposed to realize the work his father put in when he was not awake to see it himself, nor was he expected to? These

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