Today’s prompt for the Bookending Winter Event (click here for more info) is as follows:
Find a Winter-themed poem and explain what you like about it. The really brave among us may also write their own poems.
I chose this poem by Robert Hayden because it is an anecdote that really pulls my heartstrings and contains very vivid descriptions about what cold feels like. I’ll go more into detail below.
Those Winter Sundays
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?
I love this poem for a few reasons:
- Realising only later in life all the small things your parents (or other loved ones) did for you when you were little is something I can relate to. At that moment it felt only natural that they would do this, but now, having heard about other people’s childhoods or performing these small acts of love for someone else you understand how meaningful it was.
- It is a testament to that love can be expressed in many different ways. It often lies in small acts that we don’t even notice.
- The internal (almost-)rhymes and alliterations: “ached”/ “made”, “weekday weather,” “banked fires blaze”, that make the poem flow when you read it.
- The imagery: “I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.” The logs in the fireplace are splintering, of course, not the cold itself, but this is what it comes down to. Very subtle and poetic, I think. It also conveys the cold (both literal and figurative) very effectively by describing how it is “blueblack”, how the father’s hands are cracked and aching and how lonely he was because “no one ever thanked him”.
- The narrator probably doesn’t have the easiest relationship with his father: he says that he gets up “fearing the chronic angers of that house”. Chances are that growing up, he didn’t feel very loved and that only in retrospection he realises how much his father cared about him, which makes it even sadder.
- Its perfect ending that is both heart-shattering and heartwarming and ties the whole poem together: “What did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?”
Ahhh isn’t poetry great? It can paint such a clear picture and convey so many emotions in very few words. I absolutely love reading novels as well (that much should be clear from this blog, hehe) but the feeling of something being so striking, so cleverly made is almost exclusively brought on by poetry for me. How about you?
This was my last Bookending Winter 2019 prompt, tomorrow I’ll pass on the baton to Anisa @ Bookish Bibliophile. Thank you for stopping by! As always, be sure to let me know if/when you write something for this prompt, so I can check it out 🙂