Analysis of Poem

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The poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden shows us how love can be presented in a way that is not necessarily obvious at the time. The speaker of the poem is an adult, most likely a male, which is looking back on his childhood and seeing a different perspective than he did so many years ago. This child’s father is the main character throughout the short, but powerful sonnet.
The title of the poem displays a few ideas to the audience. First, it is winter which means it is cold and secondly, that it is Sunday. Sunday has always been seen as the “holy day” and even more so in the days in which the poem was written. Sunday is a day of rest and no work should be done.
The most important word in the first line of the poem is “too”. It shows us that on Sundays, along with every other day of the week, this man gets up early to take care of his family. The first stanza has a powerful message packed in to the five lines. The father is up before anyone else, in the dark coldness of the home, getting dressed, and making fires to keep everyone else warm. This stanza also shows the father was a hardworking man “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the week day weather.(3-4)” The last line “No one ever thanked him(5)” demonstrates that no one appreciates what he did to keep them warm and the devotion he has to his family.
The second stanza is from the child’s point of view. He is doing the same thing his father did by rising and getting dressed, but he did it in the warmth of the fire his father had suffered to start. After describing the bitter cold that his father was up in, he states “When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress(7)” which illustrates that it is already nice in the house...

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...good shoes as well”.
The art of repetition in the last lines “What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?” puts more emphasis on the emotion behind the words. It brings forth a boy that is now a man and fully understanding the wrongs he did to this man who loved him so. This is a man who truly regrets not understanding the affection his father had shown him all those years ago and he only wishes he had.
I chose the mode of this poem to be thematic. The theme of love drives the understanding of the poem for readers. Although the love the father feels for his child is not directly stated and the son my not have realized the affection his father was showing him as a child, it is understood by the reader because of the actions of the father.

Works Cited

Robert Hayden. "Those Winter Sundays". Last accessed 3.9.2014
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