Those Winter Sundays By: Robert Hayden
In his poem, "Those Winter Sundays", Robert Hayden assembles memories from his childhood, he then reveals his emotions through vivid and strong imagery. He specifically creates much difference with touch and sound imagery which he relates it to cold and harshness, Hayden establishes a reflective and regretful tone, the warm images indicate the respect and appreciation he has for his father.
In the beginning of the poem, Hayden introduces harsh images to put forth his tone of regret and realizing his lack of respect for his father. He relates "cold" in the second line with blueblack, which creates dark cold images to the readers mind and it lets them know that these winters were in fact shivering cold. This shows how the author of the poem likes to use these vivid images to actually make the reader and himself understand that his father really went through the bitter cold just so their family could keep warm inside. The use of these uncommon words proves how the author really regrets not telling his father thank you. He begins to build his tone of regret, by Hayden's illustration of his father with the auditory image of "cracked hands" and "ached", both of which indicate that the father's struggle with the harsh coldness (ll. 3). Also, Hayden relates his father to the breaking and splintering cold to prove that his father experienced uncomfortable conditions outside in the cold, but he still feels like he achieved his goal of keeping his family warm (ll. 6). His repeated use of harsh auditory and cold sensory imagery, which also interferes with his father's success over these images, represent Hayden's pensive memories of his tough past and his regret that he never thanked his father for fixing the uncomfortable materials
While expressing pensive regret, the poet also reveals the admiration and respect he gained for his father over the years with the use of active and warm images. After stating the breaking of the cold, Hayden writes that his father would call him "when the rooms were warm" (ll. 7). This establishes a connection, the poet effectively relates warmth with his father's efforts and presence. Hayden further exposes his admiration for his dad when he refers to him not as his father, but as the man "who had driven out the cold" (ll. 11). His puts emphasis on the image, "driven", which stresses the efforts of his father and signifies Hayden's appreciation for his father's positive actions toward his house. Expressing the cold and figuratively representing warmth and action, this helps show how the father emerges as an admired person in Hayden's mind.
Hayden's diction is mostly elevated. With his strong use of word choices like "banked," "chronic," "indifferently," and "austere" (ll.1,2,3,4) he establishes the negative side of his past. For example when he uses the word chronic, it puts emphasis on the word angers by making it seem as though his family fights constantly in the household. Most of his words are abstract, for example when he mention the words "austere," "fearing," and "angers" (ll.12,8). He likes to show his actions and his emotions of what he has experienced before. This shows how the poet is very emotional toward what he went through with his father and he really wished he had thanked him back then. This makes the reader feel sympathy for both the poet and the father. Most of these words have negative connotations, like the words "lonely," "angers," and "ached" (ll. 3,8,12). This shows how the poem is supposed to produce a negative outcome from the poem, how the poet never realized how important his father was and how he cared for his family to stay warm in the cold. Although they do have negative connotations, the poem still reveals how the father, even though it was blistering cold out, he felt proud for keeping his family safe and warm.
The use of long loose sentences help the reader focus on the main details of the poem. Hayden starts off his essay, by right away stating: "Sundays too my father got up early" (ll.1). This shows how his father truly cared about his family being warm in the cold and how he did not care whether it was freezing out, his goal was still achieved. Also in the last stanza where he states: "Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well" (ll.10), he likes to show how back then he did not care of his father coming out of the cold he still spoke to him "indifferently" and did not give a thank you to his father even though he had "polished" his shoes. The author use of sentences are declarative. By showing that no one has ever thanked him, the author is closely analyzing his past and realizing the hard work his father has done and how he has come to admire him now. How the coldness never bothered him but the feeling of his family being cold bothered him. This portrays how the Hayden finally thought about his father and how he has grwon respect for what he has gone through and the man he truly was.
Hayden's use of distinct figurative language which really helps the reader understand Hayden's true feelings toward his father. For example the poet uses a lot of alliteration, assonance and slant rhyme in the first stanza-:" with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him" (ll.1). The words "banked" and "ached" are slant rhyme, which creates a sense of pain in between the reader and the author. Meaning that when the author uses these words it shows how the tension is growing along with his memories and emotions. The mood of the audience changes as well because of the reaction we are put into when he says: "No one ever thanked him" (ll.5). The use of alliteration in the second stanza: "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" (ll.6-9), is stressing the the words "When," "Would," and "Were." This shows how the poet is reminiscing of what used to happen in his past and how he can not go back and thank his father any more. In the last stanza assonance is being portrayed by repetition of the letter "E." When the poet mentions:"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?" (ll.10-14). This creates euphony in the poem, and by using assonance it gives the reader a sense of comfortableness which changes the mood from negative to positive.
Robert Hayden, reveals harsh imagery in his poem, which shows the pensive regret he feels for never respecting his father's actions during his childhood, but he also illustrates his developed admiration and respect by using images of warmth and action. This way he contrasts everything, it clearly conveys the relationship between Hayden's tones with his father.