“Dawn on the Sabbaths”
Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” is a narrative poem that details a father’s tireless efforts at providing for his family with little regard for himself. Hayden is somewhat illusory in his depiction. This leaves one inferring as to what the real denotation of this poem entails. After closer examination, one’s insight of “Those Winter Sundays” comes into focus, though, and the genuine meaning is made mindful. The core of this poem lies in the fact that Hayden comes to realize his father’s love for him in hindsight of his father’s hard work, Hayden’s own personal maturing, and his father’s sacrifices. Initially, the poem starts off by epitomizing the father’s tenacity when stating, “Sundays too…” which illustrates that his position as a father is not limited to just Monday through Friday (line 1). Instead, Hayden’s father never seems to stop working. Sundays are archetypically meant to be a day of rest according to many Christian believers. Hayden’s father, however, works hard to make sure his son is ready and looking his finest for church. The father exemplifies this, for example, when he “polishe[s] … [Hayden’s] … good shoes as well” (line 12). Remarkably, Hayden is completely unaware of his father’s love for him despite all the wonderful gestures that his father does. Hayden’s fear of the noises that the house makes lead one to believe that he is rather young. This is apparent when he talks of “the chronic angers of [the] house” (line9). A teenager would not fear the sounds that a settling house makes first thing in the morning. It is easy to see, with Hayden being just a child, how he misses the mark on the love his father has for him. Still, this does not diminish the fact that his father does in fact love him given all that which he does for Hayden. Furthermore, Hayden’s father’s love for him is made evident in the events leading up to Hayden’s Sunday mornings. Hayden’s father pushes forward and constructs a fire to heat...
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