Thanksgiving Poetry 2016, Day 3: “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

I’m grateful for parents who got up early everyday and to feed us, read with us, and to build a fire in the winter.

From Robert Hayden who studied with W. H. Auden and became the first African-American Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a post now known as Poet Laureate, we get “Those Winter Sundays.” It’s a popular American poem, anthologized more often than “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert 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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