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  • Writer's pictureNemo

Those Winter Sundays: An Analysis

Those winter Sundays is a short poem written by American writer Robert Hayden in 1962. The poem is about his childhood experiences with his father and focuses on when his father would go out to work on a winter Sunday even with cracked hands. However, no-one ever thanked him, even his own son feared him. The poignancy of the poem lies in the fact that the author didn’t understand how immense his father’s love was for him. The theme of the poem is that parents’ love towards their children  is immense and often met with thanklessness.

Here’s the poem for you to have a read:


Those Winter Sundays

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?



We can see that the poet’s father loves him very much as we can see that he worked really hard to make a living and make sure that his son was being well cared. His father worked even on weekends in winter without getting a break. He got up early and went into the ‘blueblack cold’ while his ‘cracked hands ached’. Through ‘weather made banked fire blaze’ shows how bad the weather is even the fire in the house blaze. But no one in the family ever appreciated and thanked his hard work and it was not even seen by his most close family members. The overall effect is that it makes us think: what’s love and do we  appreciate those that love us?

Moreover, if love is not being appreciated, is it because they don’t understand and appreciate his effort, or they didn’t see it at all? In the second stanza, there’s a strong juxtaposition between the son and father as the the cold was ‘splintering’ and ‘breaking’, so that his father would call him up after its warm. However, why would the poet fear ‘the chronic angers of the house’? This phrase means unease and in this poem the author is afraid of his father and is clearly uncomfortable in front of his father. It can be seen that the father is stern to him and the son is dissatisfied and disappointed with his father. This suggests that there’s a misunderstanding between them and he doesn’t really understand his father’s love for him. This makes us feel empathetic for the father.

Last but not least, the message that the author wants to share is that everyone has their own way of expressing love and care. It highly depends on the kind of person you are. Love can be quiet, big or small. In the poem, at the end, the son asks, "What did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?" This shows the complicated feelings of a son who knows his father's love but is at a loss. We can see that the father is not so expressive as he didn’t really speak. In the last sentence, ‘love’s austere’ shows that the love between the father and the child is simple and connected. Even without the celebrations, this kind of love is also touching. However, the child didn’t understand that as ‘lonely office’ suggests that kids don’t recognise their parents’ care for them when they are angry. Looking back, we now see why the author is afraid of his father - it is because he doesn’t understand his father’s love for him.

In conclusion, sometimes love requires patience and it isn’t so easy to see and understand. When I was small, my parents always blamed me for eating sweets and not taking care of myself. I was angry and sad that time, but now I realise that they blame me because they care, and they love me so much. Love is such a complicated thing and takes a whole life to learn.

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3 commenti

Mr Coe
03 giu

Beautiful poem and I loved reading all of your lovely ideas and thoughts about it. Thanks for writing Nemo - and welcome to the Last Word!

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Juntao Li
Juntao Li
03 giu

You are welcome:)

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Juntao Li
Juntao Li
03 giu


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