A Reading of “Those Winter Sundays”
In Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” a relationship between the speaker and the speaker’s father is expressed in short but descriptive detail, revealing a kind of love that had gone unnoticed for so long. Throughout the poem, Hayden’s use of connotative diction keeps the poem short and sweet yet packed with significant meaning. The evocative sound patterns play just as great a role setting the harsh and reflective tone of the poem. Together, these devices are used to effectively deliver the poem.
The speaker seems now to be a grown man, though it is not distinguished in the poem, remembering the distant relationship he had with his father as an adolescent. He would wake every morning to the warmth of a fire despite the biting cold which lay beyond the house windows and doors. The speaker took for granted the heat that he was provided, not acknowledging the effort that went into giving this simple expression of love. Now looking back, he seems to regret not being thankful for his father’s actions and being so blind and ignorant to the love that was right in front of him.
From the very first words of the poem, the connotative diction gives the reader an idea of the direction in which the poem in going. “Sundays too my father got up early” (line 1), where the poem begins, expresses the fathers hard-working nature. The fact that he gets out of bed every day of the work-week and Sundays too, shows that his job as a father and provider is arduous and never-ending. Even the use of the word ‘father’ shows more of a respected figure, not a daddy, or a pops, but ‘father’. The father did not acquire cracked hands from work in the cold, but rather “labor in the weekday weather” (line 4). Labor today one would associate with farming, working in a factory; very hard physical ‘work’, making the role of the father in this case seem all the more laborious. The first stanza ends with “No one ever thanked him” (line 5) which gives the poem a brief pause, leading the reader to assume that perhaps his father has passed away recently. The love shown by the speaker’s father is now recognized, but it is too late to give thanks. When the speaker wakes and his father calls him downstairs, he dresses slowly for he fears the “chronic angers of that house” (line 9). ‘Chronis angers,’ the reason for the boy’s hesitation...