Those Winter Sundays
Love Between Father and Son in Those Winter Sundays and Advice to My Son
Love has a different meaning for everyone. Love differs and expresses in many ways. Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” and Peter Meinke’s poem, “Advice to My Son” shows that love can be expressed in different ways: guidance, understanding and sacrifices.
Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” is about the perspective of love changes over time. At the first stanza, it recalls the father’s act who rises early to make fire or warmth in the house and polish the shoes of his son. While in the second stanza, the speaker which is the young child shows no concern or understanding about his father’s actions. In the third stanza, when the child gets older and more mature he finally understands the sacrifices of his father. He began to appreciate his father and realizes that he took his father’s love for granted. It can be seen in the poem when he says, “what did I know, what did I know”. At this point of the story, the father has passed away and the speaker realizes the unconditional love his father has to him but it is already too late. After reading the poem, I felt an emotional appeal and makes me realize all the sacrifices my parents have done. It also shows the concept of parental love and how it changes from a child to an adult. Parents continue to love their children no matter what even if they do not receive the recognition they deserve.
While in Peter Meinke’s poem, “Advice to My Son” presents a perspective from an older and more experienced person on how to live one’s life. The poem opens with the speaker suggesting to his son to live life to the fullest but also plan long-range. I agree with this point of view that people should live for the moment but also plan for the future. It is because we only have one life and one chance to live. Life can be unpredictable and there will be obstacles and consequences one may face in their lifetime. The speaker uses imagery which evokes a sense of visual and olfactory. Meinke says, “be specific, between the peony and the rose”. Peonies are similar to roses but peonies are not as common. It is more expensive and requires more care and nourishment than roses. The message of this line is for the son to understand the importance of making decisions and to never pass on if there is a greater opportunity. The speaker also uses alliteration in “plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes”. This line has a deeper meaning because vegetables symbolize the action of a person. It means that we should wait for the time when we feel that is right to plant or do our actions. Meike says, “beauty is nectar, and nectar, in a desert, saves but the stomach craves stronger sustenance”. It means that it is necessary to take time to enjoy the beautiful aspects of life but at the same time, it has to be practical and critical.
Overall both poem shows how love can be shown and expressed in a father and son relationship. The poem “Advice to My Son”, taught me to live life to the fullest, make everyday memorable while still having a larger vision in mind. Our personal experiences and decisions will shape our values and beliefs as we progress in life. While “Those Winter Sundays”, helps me to appreciate my parents and loved ones more while it is not too late.
Relationship Between Parents and Child in the Possessive and Those Winter Sundays
When one boards the train of parenthood, there is no getting off. The journey through parenthood can be frightening as selfless and sacrificial love has to be rendered; and it is only when a child matures, and gains experience that their view of the world begins to change. In “The Possessive,” Sharon Olds tells of a possessive mother who is losing control over her daughter as she evolves in a young lady and begins to rebel. In “Those Winter Sundays’, Robert Hayden tells of regretful son reflecting on his apathy towards his father who demonstrated sacrificial love. These poems are similar in that they both explore the relationship between parent and child, where the parents demonstrate unconditional love for their children who later mature and gain different insights on parenthood. However, they differ in that “The Possessive” conveys the idea of a controlling and jealous mother whose daughter rebels whereas “Those Winter Sundays” conveys the idea of a more unrestricted love, where a son grows to understand his father’s sacrifices.
Similar to “Those Winter Sundays,” the poem “The Possessive” explores an unconditional love between a parent and child. One may argue that there was no evidence of love in this poem, but Olds diction clearly highlights the way the mother feels about her child. In fact, in the tercet she states, “My daughter” (1). The word “my” in this first line signifies the connection she has with her daughter and how attached she is, the use of this possessive pronoun shows how she feels. This is symbolic of the love that she has for her child, as he possessive nature of the mother was her method of showing love. Likewise in “Those Winter Sundays” unconditional love is evident. This father like the mother Olds writes about does not verbalize the words I love you but, the love is apparent through their actions. The speaker in “Those Winter Sundays” tells the reader in the first stanza, “Sundays too my father got up early/ and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold/then with cracked hands that ached/from labor in the weekday weather made/ banked fire flames.”(1-5) Literally, these lines can be interpreted to mean that his father got up early on Sundays to get wood for fire in the house, though his hands ached and were cracked from all the work he did during the week. However, if one was to figuratively interpret the alliteration “blueblack” in line two it would be symbolic of the sadness, pain and discomfort during the winter; however, he gathered wood to make fire, which can symbolically represent the warmth and love for his children.
Both children gained maturity which resulted in a changed relationship with their parent. “What did I know, what did I know/ of love’s austere and lonely offices?”(13-14) In these lines the speaker acknowledges that as a child, he was ignorant of the love his father demonstrated. He did not understand what it meant to be a father, and to perform the “austere and lonely” duties that family love demands. The repetition in line 13 also highlights the regret of the son. There is so much meaning attached to this repetition as it appeals to the emotions of the reader. The reader is able to realize that the son that was once young and ignorant has matured and is now able to recognize and understand his father’s method of love. He is now able to understand that his father continuously cared and provided warmth for the family by working hard in the cold everyday which resulted in aching cracked hands, providing wood for fire to keep his family warm and additionally polishing his child shoe as mentioned in the second quintet “and polished my good shoes as well” (12). He is now able to understand and appreciate the sacrificial love of his father. Similarly in “The Possessive” the reader can infer that the daughter is a stage where she is maturing and becoming her own person. However, her mother is fearful of the fact that she has to let go. As a result of the daughter’s maturity, her mother sees rebellion and states “Distant fires can be/glimpsed in the resin light of her eyes/ the watch fires of an enemy, a while before/the war starts.”(17-20). There is now a change in the relationship she has with her mother because she has evolved. Her mother now characterizes her as an enemy, as there is the realization that she and her daughter will begin to oppose on issues and decisions. Literally these lines can be interpreted to mean that she saw the reflection of fire in her daughter’s eye, however, figuratively this symbolizes war or rebellion between mother and daughter. Her diction throughout the poem can also support this as she uses words such as “blade”, “carbon steel” and “knife grinder.”
Contrary to “Those Winter Sundays,” “The Possessive” shows possessive love. The mother was extremely controlling and jealous. Throughout the poem the reader sees that the mother is upset because her daughter obtained a haircut that she did not agree to. In the first couplet she states “has been to the barber, that knife grinder.”(4) Her choice of diction and the use of metaphor should be noticed. She refers to the barber as a knife grinder which could infer that she believes the barber is sharpening her daughter, or aiding to the process of her rebelling. In the third stanza she implies, “The blade of new bangs/ hang over her red-brown eyes/like carbon steel” (7-9). This is suggestive that there is a change in the daughter, carbon steel suggesting the coverage of the daughter’s personality that the mother once knew. In “Those Winter Sundays” there is no evidence that the father was possessive. However, the son was a bit fearful of the father as in the second stanza he states “fearing the chronic angers of that house.” (9) In this line, the speaker is focuses on the emotional relationship he has with his father. The word “chronic” used in this line can infer that the angers in the household are constant and recurring. This however, refers to emotions and can be directly linked to the individuals that were in the household. In addition, he states “that house” instead of classifying it as my house. The reader can conclude that the speaker has withdrawn himself from the rage or angers of the house, the disagreement that resulted in him being fearful. In addition he states “speaking indifferently to him,” (10). From this line the reader can conclude that the relationship with his father was as the weather, cold. Through this statement it is made apparent that speaker keeps his distance from his father because they have a tense relationship as inferred in line nine.
Both poems, explore the relationship between parents and child. It was made apparent that the parents loved their children, however the love was different and the relationships were different. A possessive mother’s love results in her child gaining independence and becoming her own person and the sacrificial love of a hardworking father results in a son gaining an eye opener to the his sacrifices and regretting that he did not reciprocate or show appreciation for his father’s love. Hence, both parents loved unconditionally without hugs, kisses and verbalizing the words “I love you”. The love illustrated in these poems between the parent and child, can be considered deep and abiding; a quiet love. On the train of parenthood and there is no getting off, approach with caution for selflessness and sacrificial love lies ahead.
- Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Responding to Literature: Stories, Poems, Plays, and Essays, edited by Judith A. Stanford, 5th ed, McGraw-Hill, 2006, pp.740-741.
- Olds, Sharon. “The Possessive.” Responding to Literature: Stories, Poems, Plays, and Essays, edited by Judith A. Stanford, 5th ed, McGraw-Hill, 2006, p. 736.
Fathers in My Papa’s Waltz and My Winter Sundays
Maintaining a family can be difficult. In many instances, fathers have to work countless hours to keep their family afloat. Therefore, they rarely have time to interact and bond with their families which creates problems among them forming a happy relationship with their children. The love fathers give toward their children can be taken for granted. The poems “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke and “My Winter Sundays” by Hayden Robert illustrate this experience in two different scenarios. The Poet in “My Papa’s Waltz” describes the experience through recalling the times he would rough-house with his dad. While the poet in “My Winter Sundays” describes the experience in a more sad and appreciative manner as the poet realizes how much his father did for him.
The fathers in both poems are described similarly as both poems are about the troubles of a working dad. Theodore Roethke in “My Papa’s Waltz” tells a story of a child and his memories that happened late at night with his father (possibly his own childhood). His memories seem to be about his father. His father seems to be an alcoholic as he is often drunk as he arrives home late at night stinking of alcohol. Once his father is home, he waits to waltz (dance) with him. The poem then goes on to say they danced until pans in kitchen slid off the kitchen shelf. The poem also describes the father to have battered knuckles and rough palms which suggests that he works hard and possibly a lot. Finally, the father waltzed him to sleep in bed. In “Those Winter Sundays”, Hayden Robert also tells a story of a child and his memories with his dad (also possibly his own childhood). His memories describe the times his father would wake-up every morning to get dressed for work in the cold darkness and before leaving he would prepare the family for the morning. He prepared the family by gathering firewood and keeping the house warm and then waking the family up. Although he did not receive any thanks, he did it anyway. Overall, the fathers in both poems are hard-working men trying to support their families and rarely have time to bond with their children.
In both poems, the poets describe a flashback of theirs with much respect and love for their dads. The title “My Papa Waltz” infers that the poet respected and loved his father. When children call their dad “Papa”, it shows that they are close and that they admire and respect their father because “Papa” is a friendly word that is more personal over saying “dad” or “father”. Also, the word “waltz” implies a joyful and formal dance. As a result, the title of Roethke’s poem and the way he describes his father at times in the poem is generally positive. Another illustration of the child’s respect and affection for his father is shown by the things he overlooks and ignores to go on with dancing with his dad. For instance, the child ignores the discomfort in his ear from scraping against the buckle of his belt. Also, in the poem, it states “the whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy; / But I hung on like death” (Roethke 2-3). Roethke doesn’t seem to fully approve everything his father does to or for him, however, he still loves him despite his drunkenness and sometimes aggressive behavior. In Hayden’s poem, he remembers his dad as selfless and self-sacrificing as he says, “Sundays too my father got up early” (Hayden 1) which means he even worked on Sundays. Also, the child does not have any negative remarks about his dad outside of not being close to him. He remembers his father with respect and love, but also with some remorse as he says, “speaking indifferently to him” (Hayden 10). Him speaking indifferently with his dad means he is not interested in his dad and does not appreciate him. However, the child later says, “What did I know, What did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices” (Hayden 13-14) which shows that he deeply regretted not giving enough thanks and appreciation for what his dad did for him. Ultimately, both children in the poems loved their father deeply despite their hardships and uneasy relationship.
Even though Theodore and Hayden had different struggles bonding with their fathers as their fathers worked countlessly to support them, they both showed respect and love for their fathers. This respect and love may not have been a huge concern to them when they were children, but now, as they mature and grow older, they start to understand why their fathers acted the way they did as they reflect upon themselves through their poems.
- Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” 1966.
- Roethke, Theodore. “My Pap’s Waltz.” 1942.
Those Winter Sundays and My Papa’s Waltz: Poems About Role of Father
Parents are the biggest super heroes everyone knows or have. Regardless of whether its two Mothers or two Fathers… they are the pillar of marble that can withstand anything and everything. “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden and ‘My Papas Waltz” by Theodore Roethke display a father’s affection in little ways. Their methods may not seem like a sign of affection at first, it may be misread as harsh treatment or overworking one self. Though parents sometimes cause discomfort in their children, they may also be showing their love at the same time.
A father’s affection goes a long way. It may not be spoken but shown through subtle action. In “Sundays”, the first stanza takes readers into the speaker’s memories of his Father getting up on Sundays early “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze” (3-5). The readers may draw a sense of admiration from the speaker, he seems to be in awe when he is awoken by his father and the house is warm and welcoming. In “Waltz”, the speaker is describing a memory to the readers in which he had a quite strange encounter with his drunken father. “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy, but I hung on like death, such waltzing was not easy”. (Stanza 1). Though this poem may be interpreted in a dark abusive manner, it in reality shows the readers a father’s way of showing the boy a good time, even though the father isn’t sober. An odd way to do so, but the speaker shows that it was a happy memory, one that had no fear for his parent. The first poem shows the reader a side of affection that is shown through physical hard labor. “Sundays” inclines that the father regularly wakes up early, possibly for work… but it seems that Sunday is not intended to be his rest day. He uses it to equally wake up early and banish the cold from the house so his child is able to wake up to a warm house and shined shoes: he doesn’t have to but he does. Nevertheless, the second poem shows the reader a side of affection that is purely physical. The father seems to be waltzing with his son. “You beat the time on my head with a palm caked hard by dirt” (13-14). The father doesn’t beat the son as in literal abuse, he is patting the beat out on his head, his hands suggesting that he is a hard worker. May have come back from work just a little too drunk, but in a happy mood.
Furthermore, the speakers seem to have different emotions about what is being displayed. In “Sundays”, the speaker describes the fathers repeated habit in a sense of awe. The readers may interpret that he never picked up on the reality of his father’s love for him, until he got older and understood the reason for all of it. Only out of love would a parent do such hard labor, putting their child first before anything. At the same time, he was teaching the son a valuable lesson. “Sometimes you must put others first before yourself”. The speaker in “Waltz” seems to be confused about his father’s actions. The readers can pick up on the fact that the child must be about waist level since “at every step you missed, my right ear scraped a buckle”. If the reader reads more in depth, they would get the sense that this isn’t a regular occurrence. The Mother, who has a frown because of the destroying of the kitchen, doesn’t seem afraid of the father’s drunken self. The speaker is showing the readers a memory that possibly he might’ve not fully understood but appreciated. This all could’ve happened out of celebration for some sort; a father’s possible promotion, a new politician or maybe just the joy of being home.
The Fathers in these poems have shown the readers that there is neither a wrong or right way to show love for a child. Both fathers seem to be hard working men, but use their free time differently. In “Waltz”, the father, despite being drunk, seems to display a sense of happiness and free will. He doesn’t use his incontinence (drunkenness) to abuse his son, especially when he (the father), misses a step on the beat. He simply is having a good time; the alcohol enhances it. The speaker implies that his father may have had a little too much to drink, “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy”. The child is waist level, so for the whiskey breath to overpower such a small boy must mean the father has drunken a lot; but the mother doesn’t react on it… which readers may interpret that not as a sign of neglect, but as this not being an everyday occurrence. In “Sundays”, the father does not take the Lords Days as the intended “Rest Day”. He instead out of love for his son, rises up and warms the house up. The house seems to be indifferent to the treatment, it creaks and hollers, possibly waking up the child. Out of love for their children, both of the fathers display a sense of physical love. Doesn’t need to be spoken, doesn’t need to be pointed out… it’s just there.
The fathers have shown the speakers and the readers how love comes in different shapes and sizes. It neither has to be set in stone or said; “Waltz” and “Sundays” display signs of affection in little ways. Though parents sometimes cause discomfort in their children, they may also be showing their love at the same time. The speakers have shown the readers different emotions based on what has happened, but they too know that it is them being well thought of.
Love and Sacrifice in Those Winter Sundays Poem
Those Winter Sundays
As a parent, everyone wants the best for their children. Just because the parent did not get everything that they wanted as a child, they try to put in full effort so their kids would not have to msuffer. Some parents even sacrifice everything, even if it costs them to suffer to make sure that their offspring are good. This is the case with the father in Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays.” The father in this poem did everything that he could to make sure his entire family did not have any worries at all. For instance, the father was the working man of the house, so he would be the first one to get up in the mornings. However, this poem takes place in the winter, so that means when the father gets up the entire house is cold. With this being so, the father takes the initiative by waking up every morning and preparing a fire for everyone else to wake up to a warm house while he is gone. When the son grows into a young man, he finally realizes how much his father had really done and sacrificed for his family. This is where Robert Hayden uses the literary device of imagery to show the adherence of the father, versus how unappreciative that the son was.
Everyone is familiar with stereotypes. A father Is usually stereotyped as a caring person that does whatever to make sure that their family is safe. This is the same way with the father in “Those Winter Sundays.” At the very first beginning of the poem, any reader can see how caring he was as a father. Evidence of Hayden using imagery to show how caring the father was can be found in just about every stanza, especially the first one. For example, the son says, “Sundays too my father got up early/ and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, / then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made/ banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.” (I. 1-5). This whole first stanza shows how the father already had to work long and hard hours, but he still maintained to get up bright and early to make sure the house was warm, even while withstanding the physical pain from work. Also, the last line of the first stanza shows how ungrateful the son and everyone else in the family was of what the father did for them. It is easily to tell that the father loved his family, because he would not even allow his family to come into any place of the house until the room was warm enough for them come in, while he was sitting in the cold for hours. Also, the son says, “who had driven out the cold/ and polished my good shoes as well.” (III. 11-12). The father even polished his son’s shoes. Most fathers are very devoted to their family, but the one in Hayden’s poem truly loved his family because there are still some that won’t polish their children’s shoes. The father did not have to do these things, but he did it out of love.
Just how Robert Hayden used imagery to show caring the father was, he also used it to display how ungracious that the son is. When people feel like they are giving their all to someone and they are not getting the same in return, this then makes a person agitated and angry, which is how the father had felt. When the son says, “fearing the chronic angers of that house,” (II. 9) this refers to how mad the father was from everyone in the house being ungrateful of him. When the speaker says, “Speaking indifferently to him,” (III. 10) it shows how the father and son wanted a strong relationship with each other, but they really could not tell each other how they felt about each other, which is why the son would say mean things to his father without really meaning it, because he felt unloved. Both felt the same about each other, but they did not know how to express it. Towards the end of the poem, the son had finally matured and realized all the things that the father had sacrificed for his family. He realized how ungrateful he was of his father, but it was a little too late for that.
With all being said, Robert Hayden used the characters of the son and father through imagery for readers to understand the true meaning of the poem. He used the father to show the love and sacrifice that a father does for their family, and the son was used to show how unappreciative people can be at times, and they don’t realize what they had until it is gone. If it wasn’t for the imagery that Hayden used, the poem would not have been as emotional or appealing to readers, because this literary device gives readers a better understanding of the true meaning behind the poem.
Similarities in My Papas Waltz and Those Winter Sundays Poems
My Papas Waltz and Those Winter Sundays
My Papas Waltz, by Theodore Roethke, and Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden, are two somewhat similar poems about respected fathers. To most people a father is not just the man who fertilizes their mothers egg, but a man that spends time with and takes care of them. While doing this, he gains their love and respect. In these two poems Roethke and Hayden take an admiring look back at the actions of their fathers, although; they both imply that their parents were not perfect.
In My Papas Waltz, Theodore Roethke describes an episode in his childhood. In this, what seems to be regular, occurrence his drunken father comes home for the night reeking of alcohol and begins dancing with him. Roethke describes his fathers hands as being battered on one knuckle and extremely soiled. They romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf. This made his mother so upset that she could do nothing but frown. Finally, his father waltzed him on to bed.
In Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, the poet also relinquishes on a regular occurrence in his childhood. On Sunday mornings, just as any other morning, his father rises early and puts on his clothes in the cold darkness. He then goes out in the cold and splits fire wood with which he uses to start a fire in the house. After the entire house is warm he calls the rest of his family out of bed. He does not get any thanks for doing this, but that does not seem to matter.
In both poems the poets seem to look back on their childhoods with much love and respect for their fathers. In My Papas Waltz the title suggests a sense of love and honor. Usually when a child calls his father Papa they have a very close relationship in which the child respects and admires his father. Also, the use of the word Waltz suggests a Happy dance of high class people. This is ironic because Roethkes father is drunken and dirty when this dance takes place, but when one thinks of the waltz they think of a dance between two high-classed people in an extravagant ballroom. Another example of the childs love and respect for his father is illustrated in the things he overlooks just to be able to carryout the dance. Although The whiskey your [his fathers] breath could make a small boy dizzy, the child hung on like death. The speaker also overlooks the pain of his ear scraping against a belt buckle at every missed step of his drunken father just to continue his waltz. Roethke also indirectly implies his respect for his father by stating that his hand is caked hard with dirt. This is representative of his father having had a hard day at work.
Robert Hayden uses a different approach to imply his love and respect for his father. He uses an example of a regular occasion that he did not pay much attention to when he was a child but now that he is an adult he looks back on it with the utmost respect. Just as any other day his father gets up bright and early on Sunday mornings. He puts on his clothes in the cold darkness and goes outside to split firewood. Although he does not pay this much attention in his childhood, Hayden really respects it as an adult. His fathers actions are a result of his simple love for his children. Although his approach is different, Hayden uses one of the same references to his father as Roethke: his hand. Hayden refers to the condition of his fathers hands with this statement: With cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather. This suggests that his father is a very hard worker.
Although both poems represent the poets love and respect for their fathers, there is one implement in each poem that suggests the fathers and family life was not perfect. The imperfection of the father in My Papas Waltz is clearly stated. He has a drinking problem. In relation to this the mothers continuous frowning, the pans falling from the shelf may not have been the complete cause. She could have been frowning because she is tired of her husband coming home drunk every night. This may be a chronic problem in their relation ship. In Those Winter Sundays there is no clean-cut imperfection but one is implied when the speaker refereed to the chronic angers of that house. These angers are not specifically drawn out but they could be of many things like the absence of a mother or the abusiveness of the father, but whatever it may be, there is some imperfection.
My Papas Waltz and Those Winter Sundays are two poems that express the poets love and respect for their parents. This love and respect may not have been as big of an issue to them when they were children but now they understand why their fathers did the things they did and will use those experiences to help them in their adult life.
Childhood Memories Of Robert Hayden In His Poem “Those Winter Sundays”
American poet, Robert Hayden wrote, “Those Winter Sundays” as a memory from his childhood. Reflecting on his past from the voice of a child who fears his father. As an adult, he now has a clearer picture of what his father endured, and the sacrifices he made. A father who loves his family unconditionally and performs selfless acts for them. Robert Hayden in “Those Winter Sundays” explains through tone, imagery, and symbolism of a father’s love that will sacrifice for his family and does not demand reciprocity. The tone is sadness and regret, as Hayden remembers back to when he was growing up. He feels regret for not appreciating his father enough and all that he has done for the family. In the tone, the boy speaks of his father, “Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold/ and polished my good shoes as well”.
The speaker has remorse in the manner he spoke to the one who sacrificed his mornings to keep the home warm. He can polish his shoes, but his father does it because he cherishes his son. The boy remembers that no one gave appreciation to the man of the house. The thought occurs to him, “No one ever thanked him”. There is sadness in the tone, as Hayden understands that neither he nor another household member expressed their gratitude. The father would wake up before the sun rose to tend to the need of the family. Sacrificing his mornings, the father prepares the day for his loved ones even though they did not thank him. Newell 2Robert Hayden’s usages of imagery help to visualize that the father’s first priority is his family. Foremost, the speaker says, “put his clothes on in the blueblack cold”.
Hayden paints an image that the day has yet to begin. The father gets up before the sun in the winter mornings to warm the house for his family, that they will not have to live in a cold house. He does not want his household to have to wake up in the same freezing temperatures he endured. Before the boy’s day starts, “I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking”. As the speaker stays in his home, he can hear his father chopping wood. A visual image creates an arduous, frigid setting that shows hardships the father endured. The father demonstrates his love as he rises early to push out the cold. Additionally, symbolism represents the meaning behind what Hayden is saying.
There is hidden love within the father’s actions. He would chop wood for the fire, “with cracked hands that ached/ from labor in the weekday weather made/ banked fires blaze”. The father wakes up early even on a Sunday, a day of rest, to bring warmth to his family. Although no one thanked him, he continued to provide for them. The temperature of the rooms and weather is symbolic with his father, cold and reserved. The poem’s title indicates the time of year signifying the cold. It is the indifference and standoffish emotions between the father and child.
The speaker reflects on his adolescent ignorance, “what did I know/ of love austere …”. His father performs acts of love like bringing warmth from the fire to the household. His father does not verbalize his love, but by demonstrating it. The speaker recounts ignorance of youth that his father perseveres despite an absence of recognition of his family. Robert Hayden reflects on his past thinking about what his father had done for his family. As an adult, the speaker appreciates more of the sacrifices made and came to understand the form of love by his father. When the speaker was a child, there was a lack of wisdom. With age Newell 3comes maturity, experience and understanding the selflessness that comes from parental love which does not require an expectation of mutuality.
In “Those Winter Days” Robert Hayden recollects when his father would take care of his family that establishes the theme of familial love and sacrifice that a parent makes for their child that shows through tone, imagery, and symbolism.
A Literary Review of Those Winter Sundays, a Poem by Robert Hayden
Those Winter Sundays is a poem written by Robert Hayden. The poem involves a speaker who can be deduced to be regretting of not being grateful to a figure he refers as ‘father’ (Poetryfoundation.org). This ‘father’ forms the basis of the poem such that all the themes presented in the poem revolve around him. The speaker is clearly describing how his childhood view of his father has changed with his growing up. The current paper will analyze three major points that the poem ‘Those Winter Sundays’ explicitly communicates to its audience. Contextual evidence from the poem will be relied upon in order to ascertain the presence of the mentioned points in the poem.
The first point is a hardworking father full of fatherly love. All through the poem, the speaker paints his father as a loving family man who worked hard for his entire family. In the first line of the first stanza, the speaker states that, “Sundays too my father woke up early”, and in the fourth line still of the first stanza the speaker states that, “From the labour in the weekday whether made,” This indicates that, even when on Sundays hi father was not expected to wake up early, he could just wake up and perform some chores that he could otherwise avoid had he not been hard working. To demonstrate how loving he was as a father, the speaker argues that his father could “Polish my good shoes as well” in the third line of the third stanza.
The second point regards to family violence. There is a notion of family violence throughout the poem. The speaker in the second line of the first stanza talks about ‘blueblack cold’ a phrase that directly links to a violent setting and environment most probably of the family. The speaker states that “Fearing the chronic angers of that house” in the fourth line of the second stanza, which directly refers to how violent the home of the speaker was. It can be argued that it is this ‘father’ who propagates the violence that is experienced in the homestead of the speaker. The first line of the third stanza makes this argument evident as the speaker narrates that “Speaking indifferently to him” meaning that the speaker fears his father most likely because of his violent nature.
The third point as regards to the poem pertains to the realization that the speaker’s father deserved better treatment from all the members of his family. The second line of the third stanza, “Who had driven out the cold” indicates the speaker’s realization of the role his father played in the family. The context of the term cold in this line cannot be used in reference to the family’s internal violence but rather the external challenges which his father worked hard to eliminate and which he deserved credit for. To further prove that the speaker indeed has realized that his father required more gratitude, in the fourth line of the third stanza, the speaker states that, “What did I know, what did I know” a statement which clearly explains that the speaker has finally realized what his father deserved.
Those Winter Sundays is clearly a poem that employs all the tools and elements of poetry to stress on some family themes that existed during the years of its author. Every word, line and stanza works to effectively bring out the meaning of family life in the years of the author who is considered to be one of the pioneer poets of African-American descent. As such, in the reading and explanation of the poem, it is important each word and line in the poem is extensively analyzed.
An Old Regret: Analyzing “Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden described the relationship between his father and younger self in his poem “Those Winter Sundays.” Robert Hayden grew up in a poor neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. Since his parents left him with family friends, he grew up with that family and didn’t know his real name until he was forty years old. Hayden also taught at a couple universities and published several of his collections of poetry throughout his lifetime; written retrospectively, this particular poem is about his “adopted father” and the relationship between the two of them. Hayden, the speaker of the poem, regrets how he treated his father as he grew up. Despite the father’s hard work and efforts to show his love, Hayden failed to appreciate and recognize this man’s gestures.
Hayden’s father endeavored to be the diligent caretaker that every family desires. In the poem, the speaker explains that “Sundays too my father got up early” (1). This has implied that the father woke up early for work or to take care of business every day. Even on a worldly known day of rest, he awoke at dawn to be sure everything is completed that is required for that day. His father also worked often, and it is safe to assume that he gets up quite early for that as well. Hayden explains that he gets up before the house is warmed and “then with cracked hands that ached / from labor in the weekday weather made / banked fires blaze…”(3-5). Even after having several days of drudgery and pain in his hands, the father awoke to make the fire, allowing the house to be warm before his family leaves their slumber. It is evident, in these stark terms, that Hayden’s father cherished his family and showed them that love through providing.
The household as a whole often failed to thank the father for his efforts and care. In the poem, the speaker points out how much the father does for them in the first stanza. He ended that stanza with “No one ever thanked him” (5). This shows in literal terms that no one cared to thank him. The father worked hard to provide and loved them but was never recognized for what he did. Hayden also described his situation on Sunday mornings with “I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. / When the rooms were warm, he’d call, / and slowly I would rise and dress” (6-8). He knew that his father got up early to warm the house for the family, but he did not appreciate what was done. It was written that he continually was “speaking indifferently to him,” despite the father treating Hayden special (10). The father made the house warm and polished his shoes and worked hard all week but it was never recognized from Hayden or the rest of the family.
When looking back to the past, Hayden regrets the way he treated his father. He wrote this poem to acknowledge that and wishes he had recognized the love his father provided. In the poem he writes that he always treated him poorly and it is implied that he was not appreciative of his motives. In the poem, regret emerges in Hayden’s final words: “What did I know, What did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices” (13-14). He chose those words to show that he wishes he could change his ignorance from the past. The word austere shows the dark somber that his father may have felt from never being thanked. If Hayden could go back to his younger self, he would have treated his father as special and been grateful for what he had done for him and the rest of the family.
Unfortunately, Hayden can not reverse the distant relationship he caused with his father, but he instead tells readers this story. He wants to prevent others from having the same issues with their own parents. It is vital to recognize when people put forth effort, express gratitude toward them, and accept others’ way of showing love. There are people few and far between who strive to provide for their family and friends. It is apparent that Hayden wants us to learn from his mistakes and listen to the advice he gives through the subtleties of “Those Winter Sundays.”
Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readersand Writers. Sixth Edition. edited by John Schilb and John Clifford. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015. p. 263.
A Comparison of Advice to My Son by Peter Meinke and Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden
Peter Meinke and Robert Hayden
Peter Meinke’s poem “Advice to My Son” and Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” should be compared because they are two beautifully written poems that are about relationships between a parent and their child, but they also have their differences. Peter Meinke’s “Advice to My Son” concludes with a statement that is a little more difficult to comprehend, because it is riddled with figurative language and symbols. Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” uses language that is in a fairly straightforward and expresses one of the main themes in the last few lines. This difference in linguistic style will readily appear if you compare the concluding lines of each poem. Though these two heartfelt poems are different in many ways, in the end they are both essentially about a loving family and the relationship that a father and son share.
Peter Meinke’s poem “Advice to My Son” is about a father trying to give his son his own age-old advice on how to spend his time and how to live his life to the fullest from the perspective of one who is older and more experienced. Meinke conveys a powerful sense of a series of the opposing aspects of life: the physical and the spiritual, the sensual and the intellectual, the religious and the secular, etc. The tone of this poem is full of love and hope for the future. An example could be expressed in the lines “And always serve bread with your wine. / But son, / always serve wine.” My interpretation of these final few lines are that the speaker is trying to advise the son to take a middle course, not to veer to any extreme or the other, but to also indulge in the pleasures of life. This poem is a fantastic example of how all a parent really wants for their child is for them to be happy and successful.
Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays,” conveys the speaker as an adult man who presents the reader with memories from his childhood of how his father expressed love for him through his actions – even though no one ever really took the time to thank him – and the regret the son feels for not appreciating him. This poem has a tone that is darker and filled with sorrow and guilt. One may interpret the lines “What did I know, what did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices?” as the speaker of the poem implying a few things: That the father does everything he does for his family out of love, not expectations of being thanked for it, and that the father feels lonely and neglected because his actions are not fully appreciated.
Other than the tones, the differences of these two poems have include the situation. “Those Winter Sundays” seems more serious as the speaker reflects on how his father woke him up on cold Sunday mornings and how the boy seemingly failed to appreciate his father. On the other hand, “Advice to My Son” seems to be more of a bonding experience between two family members. Though the poems share a common theme of love, Meinke’s poem also has an underlying theme of the potential one has for success in life, while Hayden’s poem also has the lurking theme of ingratitude.
There are a few similarities that these two poems share. Other than the father-son relationships that are the poem’s subjects, the styles that the two poets demonstrate are also similar. Both the poems “Advice to My Son” and “Those Winter Sundays” were written in free verse without any obvious rhyme scheme or any clear rhythm. The lines of both poems are longer, reflecting the ideas of the poet. Both of these well-known poems also share the prevailing idea to not taking life for granted. Another similarity they share is the mood of love the reader experiences, specifically the love a parent shows for their children.