Free Online Library: Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry

Oftentimes we look back at a certain point in our lives with regret. We feel that if only we had known then what we know now, things would have been different. As we grow older, our view of the world is altered through experience and maturity. In Robert Hayden’s "Those Winter Sundays," the speaker is a man reflecting on his past and his apathy toward his father when the speaker was a child. As an adult the speaker has come to understand what regretfully had escaped him as a boy. Now he has learned to appreciate the form his father’s love had taken. The speaker now understands how difficult and lonely the duties of parental love can be and how they are borne out of selflessness and without expectation of reciprocity. The various elements of the poem work to support this theme and contribute to the poem’s emotional appeal.

Those Winter Sundays Summary by Robert Hayden

A Ballad of Remembrance by Robert Hayden

No Way Around: Robert Hayden’s Middle Passage

The tone of Robert Hayden’s "Those Winter Sundays" is one of sadness and regret. It is simple in form but its elements work to support a theme that many can sympathize with and appreciate. How unfortunate it is that as children we are so often unable to comprehend "love’s austere and lonely offices."

Poet Laureate Robert Hayden's Poem on America

The title of the poem is appropriate in several ways. First, it suggests that the poem is a memory in that it contains the word "Those." The word indicates that there were many Sundays like this one and that the memory is not of a single event but of a typical Sunday during the speaker’s childhood. Secondly, Hayden writes of "Winter Sundays" as opposed to warm, sunny summer ones. Winter, a time when everything normally fresh, beautiful and alive is dead and covered with snow, connotes both coldness and gloominess. These connotations reflect the boy’s distant relationship with his father and his coldness toward him.

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