Monday, January 7, 2013
Those Winter Sundays
by 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?
Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden, from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher
This is what I hear when I read this poem: the crackling of a fire and the creaking of a cold house. Blueblack cold, cracked hands, chronic angers. I'd read this poem aloud, then have students read along with me, to explore the ways that poets use sounds, rhythm, and alliteration to create imagery and to appeal to the five senses. I also think the theme of conflict between father and son is something that my kids could really latch onto -- that's something very sentient in their day-to-day lives.