Both Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” and Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Plain Sense of Things” describe different aspects of what defines house and home. Although a home can be a house, a house does not always mean a home. This difference, among other factors, correlates with how both poets play on the emotional undertones between a house full of people and a lone house in the woods. While Hayden seeks to describe how one’s house is a home because of a father’s love-filled action, Stevens delineates a house’s transformation from a home for people to a home for the natural world. Although the poets use two different tones for their respective poems, both define what a home could stand for.
“Those Winter Sundays” depicts the speaker’s childhood memory of Sunday church mornings. The speaker explains that his father, despite having to work outside the rest of the week to provide for his family, would go outside early mornings to retrieve firewood to heat the home. Only when the heat from the fire would warm the whole house and he polished his son’s church shoes, would the speaker’s father wake the family from their slumber. No one showed their appreciation for this action that displayed the father’s love for his family. The speaker shows deep self-reproach from his indifference toward his father, which he concludes was from being young and naïve.
In line 5 (“No one ever thanked him”) and in line 10 (“Speaking indifferently to him”) the speaker explicitly states that during those times he did not particularly care whether or not his father took the time to warm the house, polish his good shoes and then wake him up for church. At the time the speaker may have been fearful of his parents fighting, confrontation or yelling tha...
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...s and downs.
Both “These Winter Sundays” and “The Plain Sense of Things” set out to describe what the speaker feels a home is, whether it’s where one’s family is or where life resides in. Either poem takes intricate detail using the seasons to help reflect the underlying emotions of the poem’s voice along with standout lines that help the reader know what the speaker aims to say, why they say it and how they choose to say it. Hayden and Stevens do a nice job of conveying a certain sense without having to be boldly explicit.
Hayden, Robert. “These Winter Sundays”. Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology. Ed. Karen S. Henry. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 6. Print.
Stevens, Wallace. “The Plain Sense of Things”. Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology. Ed. Karen S. Henry. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 8. Print.