Those Winter Sundays Summary
by Robert Hayden

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Those Winter Sundays Summary

Told as a flashback, “Those Winter Sundays” is a poem about a speaker who reflects on his father and especially his selfless actions for him and his family that the speaker failed to appreciate when he was younger. The rhetorical question at the end of the poem, “What did I know...of love’s austere and lonely offices,” highlights the speaker’s tone of regret for not recognizing his father’s love. That his father deeply loved and cared for his son is unmistakable: even on Sundays, he woke up early to tend to the fire so that his family wouldn’t wake up to a cold house, and he thoughtfully shined his son’s shoes. The hallmark of this man’s love for his son was a quiet consistency. However, no one, including the speaker “thanked” the father. The poem clearly indicates that the father persisted in caring for his family despite their lack of appreciation for his daily labors, and in this way, his father embodies the selflessness so requisite of parenthood.