Poets and Their Fathers
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, “My Father as a Guitar” by Martin Espada, and “Digging” by Seamus Heaney are three poems that look into the past of the authors and dig up memories of the authors fathers. The poems contain similar conflicts, settings, and themes that are essential in helping the reader understand the heartfelt feelings the authors have for their fathers. With the authors of the three poems all living the gust of their life in the 1900’s, their biographical will be similar and easier to connect with each other.
“Those Winter Sundays” tells of Robert Hayden’s father and the cold mornings his father endures to keep his family warm in the winters. In “Digging” Heaney is sitting in the window watching his father do hard manual labor, which has taken a toll on his body. In “My Father as a Guitar” Espada goes to the doctors office with his father and is sitting in the office with his dad when the doctor tells him he has to take pain killers and to stop working because his body was growing old and weak. The authors of the poems all look at their fathers the same; they look at them with much respect and gratitude. All three poems tell of the hard work the dads have to do to keep their family fed and clothed. “The landlord, here a symbol of all the mainstream social institutions that hold authority over the working class” (Constantakis.) Espada’s father is growing old and his health is deteriorating quickly but his ability to stop working is not in his own hands, “I can’t the landlord won’t let me” (774.) “He is separated from the homeland, and his life in the United States is far from welcoming” (Constantakis.) Espada’s Grandmother dies in Puerto Rico and the family learns this by a letter in the mail. With a heart ache and the landlord banging at the door Espada makes it seem as if all that is going on wakes up his father from a deep sleep and sees the reality that he needed to see.” “On Sundays his father makes a fire, cleans his son’s Sunday shoes, and only wakes up his family once the rooms have warmed up” (Balestrini.) Although the family had a hard time living together the man of the house insures that his family is being well taken care of and does not have to worry about the cold, or simple challenges like cleaning shoes.
In “Those Winter Sundays” the poem takes place in the morning of a cold winter Sunday in older times. “When the grown-up son remembers hos father’s work-worn hands, he understands that the Sunday family duties prevented them from healing” (Balestrini.) The cold in the poem shows the harsh conditions his father works in to provide for his family. Older times is revealed because the father starts a fire, and keeps it burnings to warm up the house and the bedrooms in it. In “My Father as a Guitar” the poem is in the United States, probably in the south because the family moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. They are in the hospital in one stanza and at an apartment in the next two...