In Robert Hayden’s, “Those Winter days”, the reader is shown an imaginary view of fire and love. The poem itself is short and concise but contains various interpretations because of its image of a past days.
This poem of three stanza narrated by an adult son remembering the care of his father during his childhood. He begins by describing the painful physical work that his father performed in the cold every morning. The second stanza contrasts the son’s more relaxed morning with his father’s altruistic tasks. In the last stanza, the speaker laments his youthful inability to recognize and reciprocate the acts of love of his father.
Robert Hayden, born Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan, was raised in a slum called was an acclaimed African-American poet of the twentieth century. He published more than ten poetic volumes throughout his life and was the first winner of the African-American poet of the United States, serving from 1976-1978. Hayden’s childhood was difficult, and he spent most of his life in foster care. Many of his works were influenced by his own experiences, but he wrote masterfully in several different voices. Although he was not a warm man, the father showed love daily through small unappreciated acts. As he remembers his past, the now-grown speaker feels a mixture of gratitude and guilt. The poem reminds readers of the sacrifice’s parents make for their children and the often silent and invisible nature of love.
The dominant images in the poem are cold and hot. The speaker’s childhood home is cold, and his relationship with his father seems harsh, but each day his father sacrifices his own comfort to build a fire and heat the house. The fire and its heat are representations of the father’s love. The cold is emphasized through diction and sound devices.
The “cold blueblack” created “cracked hands that hurt” along with sounds of “splintering” and “cracking” in the house. The nostalgic tone of the speaker evokes a feeling of regret and sadness. Readers can share this sadness and be moved to enjoy the little acts of love that their family members perform. In conclusion it can be said that the polished speaker shoes symbolize the father’s kindness towards his son while working ungratefully to make his life easier.
His father works hard so that the son can lead a more comfortable and privileged life. The fire shoots out cold, just as love conquers indifference. the fire that the father builds is both a literal and symbolic act of love. As a representation of warmth, joy and community, the fire is also a symbolic reminder that the speaker’s home was full of love. The external cold of winter symbolizes the coldness in the relationship of the son with his father. As a child, the speaker does not recognize the love of his father because it does not take the form of words of joy and love. The cold interior of the house suggests that the family struggles to express love.
Dad’s cracked hands are a sign of the hard work he’s been working day to day. This work helps support your child by making cracked hands a sign of his father’s loving sacrifice.