Thursday, February 18, 2010

Poetry: Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden's Those Winter Sundays stops me in my tracks very time I read it, and hearing Hayden himself recite the poem gives me chills. I often hear the last refrain echoing throughout the Midwestern winter.

I highly recommend listening to a short recording of Hayden reading Those Winter Sundays here, from the Library of Congress, through PBS' ArtBeat.

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert E. Hayden

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?

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