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Those Winter Sundays -- Robert Hayden

Guest poem sent in by Aamir Ansari
(Poem #975) Those Winter Sundays
 Sundays too my father got up early
 And put his clothes on in the blueback 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?
-- Robert Hayden
I came across this poem in an anthology I'd bought at a flea market. I was
touched by its heartfelt admission of the deep regret that follows youth as
insight develops with the passage of time. The insistent reproach ("What did
I know, what did I know/ of love's austere and lonely offices) makes it
particularly heart-breaking. A haunting poem, not easily forgotten.

Aamir

Links:

  Biography of Hayden: [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=200

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