23 Aug 2013

Those Winter Sundays – Robert Hayden

[1913–1980, American]

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? 

Source: Hayden, R 1966, ‘Those Winter Sundays’, in Frederick Glaysher (ed.), Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, Liveright Publishing Corporation.

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