Essay: Robert Hayden and his poem “Those Winter Sundays”
“Those Winter Sundays” is a poem by Robert Hayden about a very hardworking foster father who is not appreciated by anyone. Having grown from a poor family and loving a foster father who loved the door next to his parent’s place made write a poem about a foster father. While in the university of Michigan, where he studied with H. Auden, he got a lot of influence from him as he encouraged him to go on with writing as he had already written one poem. He liked a lot of writings from a number of poets and these served as his role models. The fact that Robert was black, encouraged him to concentrate on poems about race, “his concern with racial appearance was thus awakened. He asserted that he was almost as fair as his white playmates (Williams 5).
The poem is about a man who has to wake up all the days of the week including Sundays. Since he has to do very hard chores during the week, he hands ache on Sundays but he cannot rest for he has to his aching hands to make the fire without receiving any compliments from anyone. The son cannot wake up until he feels that the room is warm from the fire light by the father. He wakes up lazily filled with anger from the house (Bogarad & Schmidt 314). The son does not appreciate what his father has done for apart from warming the room, he has also polished his shows. The son now regrets what he did as he experiences loneliness in the offices. The main theme of this poem is the regret of the speaker as he tries to explain how he had a very caring foster father but could not appreciate him at all. Different words are used to mean the same thing and this may be confusing to the readers of the poem. The word “blueblack” (Hayden 2) is a very rare word that is used to create dissonance as it carries with it a harmful connotation so as to empower the detrimental conditions brought about by cold imagery (Reftorr). The fact that the father called the speaker only “When the rooms were warm” (Hayden 7) is a clear indication that the room was not only warm from the fire but also due to the presence of the father.