“Those Winter Sundays”-Robert Hayden

 “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”-W.H. Auden

It’s 23 degrees and a cold blustery Sunday on the East Coast. The heat is coming up and I just finished my morning coffee. I revisited Robert Hayden’s poem this morning, Those Winter Sundays, and it brought to mind how we or how I do not say “Thank you” nearly enough to those who have loved us and helped us along the way. You can tell from the poem that Hayden endured a difficult childhood and/or relationship with his father and possibly other family members; yet regrets not expressing appreciation for the little things that his Dad did. I think it’s a beautiful poem. Happy Sunday Dear Readers and I hope you’re warm!

Oh…learned this morning that while Hayden was pursuing his graduate degree, he studied under W.H.Auden, another favorite poet of mine!

 Those Winter Sundays

 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?

2 thoughts on ““Those Winter Sundays”-Robert Hayden

  1. Thank you again, Ilene, for reminding me how much I like this poem. It certainly makes me think of my own father, who’s not perfect, and still not easy to talk with. But while my mom gave me the love of books and flowers, Dad taught me to use and love maps, and let me practice navigating for him on road trips, and on flights in his Air Coupe. I still know all the state capitals from the constant drills while we played the Game of the States. He woke slowly and grudgingly in the mornings, yawning,and claiming he “could sleep for a week”. Yet he got up an hour early for six years to get me off to school, and I can still see him holding my shiny red winter boots in front of the heat register as he warmed them for me on cold mornings. I have thanked him for these generous gifts, but I need to do it again, while I still can. – Linda

    • Linda, so glad to hear from you. Wow, it’s wonderful your dad is still around!!!!! Linda, please forgive me, somehow, i think i deleted your responses to the questions!!!! I know you have either the “sent” email or the responses saved. I’m so sorry, I really would love to read them!!!!!! What parent is perfect? Parents, most parents, do the best they can.

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