ThoseWinterSundays Robert Hayden
Robert Hayden (1913-1980) • Born August 4th, 1913 as Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan and was taken into a foster family • Was raised in a slum called Paradise Valley (Detroit’s ghetto) • Known for his poems that express African-American experience • Attended Detroit City College • Married Erma Morris in 1940 • In 1976, he was appointed consultant to the Library of Congress, becoming the first African American poet to receive this honor. • In 1980, Hayden died of heart failure
Those Winter Sundays Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,then with cracked hands that achedfrom labor in the weekday weather madebanked 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,
Those Winter Sundays Speaking indifferently to him,who had driven out the coldand polished my good shoes as well.What did I know, what did I knowof love's austere and lonely offices?
Those Winter Sundays Those Winter Sundays, Video Recording By Kelly Gugan
The Speaker • The son/daughter of the father • Probably is his son • (“and polished my good shoes as well”) • He is an adult now, looking back onto what his father had done for him in the past • He realizes now how he wasted his childhood not recognizing the little things that his father did
The Attitude of the Speaker Toward his Father A Subtle Love – building fires in the early morning that “drove out the cold” Fear– (“fearing the chronic angers of that house”) –implies that his family fought a lot * Regret – the boy didn’t understand the significance his father had until later in his life
The Poem’s Organization • 3 stanzas • 2 stanzas with 5 lines • 1 quatrain • Loose blank verse • Length of the sentences vary
The Poem’s Organization • The first stanza, Lines 1-5 • Establishes the subject, the speaker’s father • Focused upon the father’s suffering • The father sacrifices himself to get up early, work, and warm the home for his family • Ends with a very powerful line, “No one ever thanked him.” • The speaker never acknowledged his fathers’ actions
The Poem’s Organization • The second stanza, Lines 6-9 • Once warmth is achieved, the father calls his son to rise and get dressed • Mentions “chronic angers” in the household
The Poem’s Organization • The third stanza, Lines 10-14 • Begins with the image of distance as a continuation of the last line of the second stanza (“speaking indifferently to him”) • But also mentions that he was ungrateful for the things his father did • Speaker admits his ignorance over the simple love for his father (“…what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices”)
Imagery • Cracked hands • Implies the rough labor that the father went through • Sunday • Typically is a day of rest… Shows that the father got up early to do things for the family regardless of the day • Fire • Shows a contrast with “blueblack cold” • Shows a sense of liveliness and anger as well
Straight-forward language Progression between the contrast of dark/cold and light/warm throughout the poem 1st Stanza (father getting up): “blueblack cold” in contrast to “banked fires blaze” 2nd Stanza (son waking up): “cold, splintering, breaking” in contrast to “the rooms were warm” - Could symbolize a similar relationship between the father and son Diction and Syntax
Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,then with cracked hands that achedfrom labor in the weekdayweather madebanked 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, The word choice in the first 2 stanzas emphasizes the hard “c” sound, which could symbolize the pain of the father and of the household Uses alliteration as well to make the poem “sound” smooth Diction and Syntax
3rd Stanza: Speaking indifferently to him,who had driven out the coldand polished my good shoes as well.What did I know, what did I knowof love's austere and lonely offices? The diction in the last stanza is a lot more calm and relaxed compared to the first two stanzas, as conveyed in the meaning of the final stanza (a sense of love/remembrance) Diction and Syntax
Conclusions • “Those Winter Sundays” is about an adult who is looking back at his past relationship with his father. He now recognizes the extremity to which his father did things for him even within the angry household. The speaker regrets not recognizing the habitual actions that his father did for him while he was young. • The title is significant in that it describes the typical winter Sundays that the speaker’s father would do things for him and how, in his youth, he never appreciated any of it.
Bibliography For Background Information: • "Robert Hayden." Poets.Org. Academy of American Poets. 16 Apr. 2008 <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/196>. • Kennedy, and Gioia. "Robert Hayden." Pearson Longman. 16 Apr. 2008 <http://wps.ablongman.com/long_kennedy_lfpd_9/0,9130,1490011-,00.html>.