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The Array of Family Love

By Dills818 Nov 24, 2008 682 Words
Love is a universal language. It is consistent among all cultures. It breaks down barriers and builds up relationships. Ultimately, it is what keeps families together. Although its preeminence is everywhere, the expression and perception of love varies individually. In the poems “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden and “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps” by Galway Kinnell, the individual families in these literary works experience very different forms of love. Whether it takes the maturity of an adult or the innocence of a young child to see that love is apparent, it is still undeniable the presence and importance that love plays in a family relationship.

In “Those Winter Sundays” Hayden shows fear towards his family. This emotion only escalates because he is unsure of the relationship they share, especially in regards to his father. Throughout his childhood he never understands the ways his father demonstrates love which eventually clouds his thoughts about him. He fears “the chronic angers of that house” and does not have the reassurance of love to fall back on during rough times. Neither one of them is able to express their gratitude towards each other, making it even harder to get through the rough times the family encounters. Hayden illustrates the constant anger and discomfort of his family, making it easier for him to ignore the signs of compassion that his father subtly expresses. His father gets up early everyday, even his day off, to warm the house before he wakes Hayden. The poem concludes as Hayden looks back to his childhood realizing although his father did not outright express his love, his acts and gestures of kindness do. Ultimately, Hayden feels guilt and sadness towards the relationship with his father and blames his ignorance on being young and immature.

Much to the contrary of “Those Winter Sundays” is “When We Make Love We Hear Footsteps.” In this family, affection is blatantly shown. Parental, marital and sexual love are all present in this family. The child, Fergus, obviously holds a special bond to his parents. “For I [the father] can snore like a bullhorn or play loud music or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman and Fergus will only sink deeper into his dreamless sleep.” However, when his parents are making love he will wake up and go “to the ground of his making” to be with his parents. Even in such an intimate moment his parents still willingly accept Fergus. Fergus comes in and snuggles into bed between them and Kinnell ruminates "this blessing love gives again into our arms."

Although the families share obvious differences in their interfamily relationship, they also share some indisputable similarities as well. Both families experience love. Hayden’s father never receives gratification for the work he does, but he still does it. He might not be very expressive about his love for his family, but he still loves and works hard for them. Kinnell’s family foundations are basically built on their love for each other. They openly care for each other and do not take for granted the love and family they have been given. Both families also have a sense of innocence. In “Those Winter Sundays” it is Hayden’s childhood innocence and immaturity that makes him unaware of the love his father possesses for him. In “When We Make Love We Hear Footsteps” it is Fergus’s innocence that draws the family even closer and also to appreciate the blessings that they have. Kinnell’s family evokes a sense of integrity, commitment and innocence in the way that they love and care for each other.

Love reveals itself in many different ways. Whether it is like Hayden, who realizes love can be shown by simple, silent gestures; or like Kinnell, whose family shows constant physical and emotional love. Either way love is a personal emotion, felt and given differently by all people. Love can be obvious or discreet, but regardless, is always present in people’s lives. Home is where the heart is, and ideally, there is plenty of heart in a home.

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