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Dominant Theme in "Those Winter Sundays" and My Papa's Waltz"

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"Those Winter Sundays" is a very touching poem. It is written by Robert Hayden who has written many other poems. This paper will talk about the poem "Those Winter Sundays". In particular we will look at the structure, main idea, and each stanza of the poem. "Those Winter Sundays" has a structure like many other poems. It is written in the first person notation

Often through the poem you would find yourself reading "I'd wake" and "I know". "Those Winter Sundays" has three stanzas that are separated with even white space. The first stanza consists of five lines followed by the second containing four lines and like the first stanza the last consists of five lines.

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The speaker in Roethke's poem appears somewhat frightened of his dad and finds him a somewhat slightly menacing and even unpredictable figure. He remembers his father with a type of terror. However, in Hayden's poem, the speaker remembers his dad as the thoughtful, loving and self-sacrificing character. He remembers his father with respect and love, but also with some remorse, as the son failed to show gratitude for his dad when he was young. Moreover in Roethke's poem, the speaker seems silent, no proof exists that he communicates to his father, maybe since he felt scared by the drunkenness and strength. In contrast, the speaker in Hayden's poem does talk to his daddy, but barely "indifferently" a detail that he presently regrets. The center of Hayden's poem is more on the father while the focus on the poem written by Roethke is to the reactions and feelings of the boy. Although both poems represent respect and love for their daddies, there exists a single device in each of the poems that imply that the family life and the fathers were not perfect

In My Papa Waltz, the imperfection of the father clearly states. He poses a problem of drinking alcohol. Therefore causes the mother's persistent frowning and the pans skidding off the shelf. In Those Winter Sundays; the imperfection is not clear cut. However, one is hinted at when the speaker makes a reference to the chronic anger of that home, whatever the cause it shows that there exist imperfections. "Those Winter Sundays" and "My Papa's Waltz"; are poems that show the poets' respect and love for their fathers. This respect and love may not have been as huge concern to them when they were young, but now, more than ever they know why their fathers performed the things they had to and will exploit those experience to aid them in their life as adults.

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These poems can make a person look at this world in absolutely different ways and realize that past challenges cost nothing in comparison to the challenges other people cope with day by day. Those Winter Sundays is a poem, in which Robert Hayden describes family relations, father’s constant sacrifices and unbelievable devotion that made a man neglect own pain and discontent in order to provide his family with warm and care, which were so obligatory their lives. Those Winter Sundays is the story about family relations, where a father plays the most important role because he works so hard with his “cracked hands that ached from labor” (Hayden n.p.). In this poem, the message of the author is based on his own life and his childhood. He was raised by his foster parents (Greasley 251), because his true parents separated before the child even was born

Considerable age gap between him and his father, William, deprived young Robert of the opportunity to comprehend his foster father’s love to its full extent. William had to get up early every day in order to provide his family with the necessary comfort as well as the character from the poem did (Formann 8). “Sundays to my father got up early…the cold splintering, breaking” (Hayden n.p.). These lines introduce a serious point to the reader: a father sacrifices so many things and even his own health but creates warm for his son and his family. It does not matter what time is now, what weather is outside; the father realizes his duties and has to find more powers to help his family to start this new day more or less comfortably. Even if his actions are not noticeable for his family, somewhere inside, he knows that his efforts will be soon appreciated. On my opinion, each father has to think about his family’s comfort. However, this family has to take care about the father as well, but in this case, “no one ever thanked him” (Hayden n.p). A son in the poem gets a chance to analyze how unfair and terrible his father’s work actually is; but through the lines, the reader also comprehends that this son is not satisfied with the fact that his father spends so much time far from him. He is too young to understand that this care is much more important than just simple being together, and this devotion is the one that is reasonable and fair.

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To summarize, love is the major theme layered in this poem. The son remembers how he loved his father. The boy mentions that he managed to dance with him despite knowing that his father was drunk, frustrated. Also, during the waltz or after being hit, the boy observes the dirty palms of his father and understands that the father is not hitting him out of anger, perhaps due to their hard life or poverty

The mother, however, remains quiet. The core idea of the poem is true love and natural attachment of the son towards his father.

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Formann, Wiebke. Family Portrayals in “A Ballad of Remembrance” – How Robert Hayden Dealt with His “Greatest Discouragement”. Norderstedt Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print.

Goldstein, Laurence and Chrisman, Robert. Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2001. Print.

Greasley, Philip. Dictionary of Midwestern Literature: The Authors. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2001. Print.

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Poet Seers. 31 Oct. 2009.

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