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In the poem "Those Winter Sundays" from what point in time does the speaker...

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sfbaby93 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 9, 2008 at 12:14 AM via web

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In the poem "Those Winter Sundays" from what point in time does the speaker view the subject of matter of the poem?

In the poem "Those Winter Sundays" from what point in time does the speaker view thw subject of matter of the poem? What has happened to him in the interval?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?

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 9, 2008 at 2:26 AM (Answer #1)

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Those Winter Sundays is a wonderful poem by Robert Hayden, one of the most influential Harlem Renaissance poets. Next to Langston Hughes, Hayden may be the best-known poet of the Harlem Renaissance, even though his collection of work is not as extensive.

In the poem, Hayden retrospects to his childhood, and recalls the small acts of kindness that his father performed. There is a bittersweet essence about the poem, as the author recalls how he was never grateful toward his father for the generosity displayed.

The closing lines of this poem are most frequently discussed in literature classes: "What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?"

The author here expresses the realization that his father was instrumental in his success, and that his father labored in a solitary and quiet way to ensure that success.   

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ceb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 9, 2008 at 8:40 AM (Answer #2)

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"Those Winter Sundays" describes a son's recollection of his relationship with his father.  When the son was a boy, he didn't appreciate precisely what it meant for his father to warm the rooms of the house in the morning and polish his shoes.  These subtle acts of providing, and love, are regretfully only appreciated by the son as an adult.

You might want to think about how Hayden uses the notions of cold/heat and light/darkness to comment on the father-son relationship and how the poem explores what it means to be a father.   

 

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chuckyard | eNoter

Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:01 AM (Answer #3)

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The poem examines Sunday mornings when a working class father wakes up first in the house while it is dark and cold outside and lights the fire to warm the house and shine his son's shoes (one guesses for church).  Someone has to be the first up and it is the parent who makes the sacrifice.  The father receives no thanks during his lifetime and by the time the son has become an adult and perhaps he is now a father too and as such, can appreciate the responsibilities fulfilled by the father; the son, who is the narrator now shows his later perspective.  Being an adult in a life filled with much sacrifice is deserving of gratitude by a son; however the father has died before the realization of the adult son.  The sacrifices made by the father are referred to as "the austere and lonely offices" as they were made during the time when the narrator was yet a child and could not understand what his father was doing.  It is the adult son who feels regret and sorrow.  The child who grows into the adult son now mature enough to understand the parent's sacrifice; however it is then too late.        

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