The poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden shows us how love can be presented in a way that is not necessarily obvious at the time. The speaker of the poem is an adult, most likely a male, which is looking back on his childhood and seeing a different perspective than he did so many years ago. This child’s father is the main character throughout the short, but powerful sonnet.
The title of the poem displays a few ideas to the audience. First, it is winter which means it is cold and secondly, that it is Sunday. Sunday has always been seen as the “holy day” and even more so in the days in which the poem was written. Sunday is a day of rest and no work should be done.
The most important word in the first line of the poem is “too”. It shows us that on Sundays, along with every other day of the week, this man gets up early to take care of his family. The first stanza has a powerful message packed in to the five lines. The father is up before anyone else, in the dark coldness of the home, getting dressed, and making fires to keep everyone else warm. This stanza also shows the father was a hardworking man “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the week day weather.(3-4)” The last line “No one ever thanked him(5)” demonstrates that no one appreciates what he did to keep them warm and the devotion he has to his family.
The second stanza is from the child’s point of view. He is doing the same thing his father did by rising and getting dressed, but he did it in the warmth of the fire his father had suffered to start. After describing the bitter cold that his father was up in, he states “When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress(7)” which illustrates that it is already nice in the house by the time he was gets up. Hayden adds the connection between his father’s hard work and the warmth in the house here. The last line of this stanza is a shocking one just like in the first, “fearing the chronic angers of that house (9)”. As the reader, it is unclear on why the speaker feels this way, but there is some style of domestic matter in the household.
The third and final stanza is when the speaker comes to the realization of that everything his father did was out of love and affection for his family. There are implied feelings of regret as he understands that his father is the reason the cold is gone and he had done things such as shining his shoes out of adoration. The rhetorical question “What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?(13-14)” as the last line implies that this grown...