“Those Winter Sundays” is a beautiful poem about being a parent and a child, and about waking up both into the angers of the house and the warmth of a fire build by caring hands. Like so many profound poems, this poem shows both the anger and the warmth side by side. And it’s an invitation to expand our perspective. Hayden says that his “ poetry is a way of coming to grips with reality…a way of discovery and definition. It is a way of solving for the unknowns.” His retrospective poem “Those Winter Sundays” perfectly embodies this, making us question this perspective of a distant family relationship.
Those Winter Sundays Robert Hayden
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’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,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Writing Prompts Inspired by Those Winter Sundays
Write about early mornings in your childhood. What did you wake to?
Robert Hayden was born in 1913, but reading and writing can make the past feel as immediate and present as this moment.
Come to my blog post for 15 great morning poems for your own mornings and for any time of transition.
I greatly enjoyed this poem. I could feel the blueback coldness of morning….another line that touched me was when he said when the rooms were warm…the father called him…and also the line that no one ever thanked him.
Another vivid image that will stay with me…is the cracked and work worn hands of the father….
Yes, I so agree. Thank you for your comment, MaryAnne!