29 February 2012
Scholarly Sources for “Those Winter Sundays”
Upon first reading the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, I was an objective reader who assumed Hayden was looking back with nostalgia at his lost childhood. Without researching the poem, as well as Hayden himself, I had no way of knowing his background as an adopted child to unhappy parents in a dysfunctional household. After reading several sources, I’ve formed a somewhat new outlook on the poem and what it means not only to we the readers, but also to Hayden the poet.
One of the aforementioned sources used was Ann M. Gallagher’s “Hayden’s ‘Those Winter Sundays’” in which Gallagher basically provides an objective explication of the poem. She picks apart the poem’s main characteristics, and manages to understand something that I as an explicator had not: that Hayden obviously came from an unhappy childhood. Gallagher expands on that topic without ever mentioning any research she had done on Hayden’s biography, but solely on evidence from the text itself.
Another of the texts used was Pontheolla Williams’ book Robert Hayden: A Critical Analysis of His Poetry. In this book, Williams spends most of the first few chapters delving into Hayden’s biography and where he grew up. Hayden was raised in Detroit with his adoptive parents, William and Sue Hayden; however, he still frequently visited his biological mother, Ruth Sheffy, in New York, and his biological father in Indiana (3-4). In this book, Williams connects how the difficulties of growing up with two sets of parents contributed to “Those Winter Sundays.”
My final source was Phillip M. Richards’ article, “Robert Hayden (1913-1980): An Appreciation” from the journal, The Massachusetts Review. This source focuses more on Hayden’s intellectual journey such as where he went to college, which scholars influenced him, and how this was portrayed in his poetry. Richards reveals that...