Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

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 (4 August 1913 – 25 February 1980) was an American poet, essayist and educator. Hayden was born Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan to Ruth and Asa Sheffey. His parents separated before his birth and he was taken in by a foster family next door, Sue Ellen Westerfield and William Hayden. He suffered a traumatic childhood witnessing fights, outbursts of anger and suffering beatings, things that would stay with him into adulthood.

He attended Detroit City College and then the University of Michigan. While studying for his Masters degree, Hayden studied under the renonwned poet W. H. Auden. After matriculating in 1942, he taught for several years at Michigan. Hayden then taught at Fisk University for 23 years and returned to Michigan in 1969 to complete his teaching career. He was appointed the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976. He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1980 at the age og 66.

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