Parenting and Poetic Technique in “My Father’s Song” by Simon J. Ortiz and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
The poem “My Father’s Song” is based on the wisdom and values, as well as traditions passed from old generation to new one. The speaker uses his life experience between him and his father to depict the variation of values and traditions between the old and new generation. In emphasizing his theme, the writer has used repetition of specific phrases, as well as using simple wording to make it livelier. On the other hand, the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden explores the relationship between a parent and his child. He goes on to present the experiences of this relationship including love, misunderstanding, hate, and admiration. The poems “Those Winter Sundays” and “My Father’s Song” are focused on expressing the relationship between father and son, and on developing differing levels of closeness between these figures through deviations in the poetic techniques employed.
Parenting styles and their effects on the child are themes explored by both of these poems. In essence, parenting is a critical aspect which plays a huge role in influencing the role which the child will play in the society upon growing up. Consequently, the bonds which children establish their relationships determine their social interaction with the society. The poems, “Winter Sundays” and “My Father’s song” are about the authors remembering their father and how they related with them. They then go on to showcase the consequences of this relationship in their attitudes and general life. Accordingly, the authors of these poems reflect back on the lives of their fathers and remembering past events while relating them to their lives. In “Those Winter Sundays” the narrator reflects on the sacrifices made by his father for him and the entire family, but of which were not appreciated. The narrator in the poem does not have a special or intimate relationship with his father. As a young boy, he used to fear his father to the extent that he could not relate to him freely. Subsequently, this kind of relationship affected the narrator’s social aspects as he could not form a strong social bond with him. In other words, he did not welcome his presence.
The kind of boy child- relationship exhibited in “My Father’s Song” is quite different from that of “Those Winter Sundays”. In particular, the narrator in the former poem is closer to his father and is free to communicate with him in matters concerning the family as depicted in the context “my father was speaking things to me”. This is an indication that the father was giving advice to his child and interacting with him on important issues affecting him and the society. The father was informing his child on the things he needed to know when he grows. The narrator further explained the oral traditions of his culture to his son as he considered this part of his obligations. However, the voice of the father is not directly relayed; but instead, it’s ingrained in the song, experience, and actions.
In these poems, both of the authors have employed literary devices to express the theme. However, despite both poems expressing the relationship between son and father, the authors have employed different figurative language, tone, and imagery. In “Those Winter Sundays” the tone used is a bit harsh while in “My Father’s Song” the reflective and humble tone is depicted in the word choices which the author uses. For instance, in the first stanza, the speaker vividly remembers the voice of his father. His description of the experience is as follows: “I am deeply missing my father today, His voice is the best ever, I am longing for his thin chest, I am overwhelmed by emotions, When he is speaking to me as his son” (Ortiz 2-7) On the contrary, “Those Winter Sundays” as a completely different tone as depicted in the following lines drawn from stanza two: “I could wake up only to hear the breaking, and cold splintering, He would call when the rooms were warm, I would slowly rise to dress, With fear of that house’s unceasing anger” (Hayden 22’ 1-4) What this means is that the narrator was not at all comfortable at the house and that he feared the voice of his father. This is why when he called; he could do the necessary, which is dressing because he feared his father.
Both “My Father’s Song” and “Winter Sundays” express a reflection of the relationship between father and son and the outcome of these relationships on their personality and attitude. However, the experiences narrated in these poems are quite different. In “My Father’s song” there is a communication, and love between the child and his father. The father loves not only his son, but also his family unconditionally. This is a different case with the relationship on the “Those Winter Sundays” whereby: the father is unable to neither express his love nor communicate with his son and family. This is an important lesson to today’s parents on the implications of their parenting styles on the perception and future of their children. Therefore, the two poems can be used to complement one another in themes regarding the effective parenting styles.
Ortiz, Simon. “My Father’s Song”, 1976. Available from https://mgdenikegannon.weebly.com/uploads/6/0/3/1/60313901/my_fathers_song_simon_ortiz.pdf Hayden, Robert. Those Winter Sundays, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1985. Available from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46461/those-winter-sundays
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