The structure of the poem and the way the speaker addresses the topic mirror the actual progression of feelings that the speaker has. As such it begins with the setting of the scene, the fact that his father arose early on Sundays just as he did on weekdays. The speaker notes that his hands are cracked and worn from the hard labor he does throughout the week and that he does so to bring the fires to a blaze to warm the cold house.
The speaker then places himself in the setting, lying in bed waiting for the chill to be banished by the fire but then quickly responding to his father's call, fearing his anger which apparently often featured in the home.
It is in the final stanza that the speaker's awareness of what his father did has changed as he too has grown to be a man. He notes that he spoke to him indifferently as any young man often does to his father, notes that he knew nothing of the love that was so obvious in his father's actions. The question he asks is "what did I know," implying the absence of knowledge then that has been changed now to show him too late the love he was shown as a young man.