October 10, 2011
Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” is filled with immense emotion. It is through examination of the lines and words a larger picture unfolds. Like most poetry, various interpretations of “Those Winter Sundays” are shaped and formulated due to its accessibility. Although each analysis carefully traces the poems lines and evaluates the meaning of words in the context, the end result is a skewed conclusion. Various interpretations of “Those Winter Sundays” formulate due to the accessibility of the poem. With a lack of concrete description and definition, much is to be assumed and formulated by the reader. This drastic difference in analyses is seen in the conclusions drawn by Ann Gallagher and Jeannine Johnson. Gallagher concludes the poem is a childhood void of affections, whereas Jeannine Johnson sees a poem entailing love’s services. Although, Gallagher and Johnson put forth interesting analyses and support them heavily, the openness and duality of various words and phrases leave us without a concrete explanation or meaning. I, have come to conclude, that due to Robert Hayden’s past experiences with abandonment and love and the duality in the meaning of various words, we are not able to find a concrete meaning to “Those Winter Sundays.”
Gallagher’s analysis of the poem is an experience of a childhood void of affection. As one traces the lines of the poem it is evident to see why Gallagher formulated her specific analysis. The first section of this poem sets the character and personality of the father. As the poem unfolds, this opening section puts in place the makeup and behavior of this non-loving father figure as one traces through the second and third sections. In the opening line of the poem Hayden states: “Sundays too my father got up early” (Hayden, 1). Sundays are usually thought as a day of rest. However, the father in this poem is anything but lazy and wakes early.
Cited: Gallagher, Ann M. "Hayden 's 'Those Winter Sundays. ' (Robert Hayden)." The Explicator 51.4 (1993): 245+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. Johnson, Jeannine. "An overview of “Those Winter Sundays”." Poetry for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. Consulted Perkins, David. "Black Poets of America." A History of Modern Poetry: Modernism and after. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1987. 606-09. Print.