Those Winter Sundays



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English 9 (Hart)

Poetry Unit: Sound Devices

“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

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.breaking. / When In A Ballad of Remembrance (1962), the line between these two lines reads: "and smell the iron and velvet bloom of heat." While this line was deleted, the version in A Ballad of Remembrance is still a sonnet. There are other variants between both versions; mostly relating to where the line breaks.

Whenbreaking. / When In A Ballad of Remembrance (1962), the line between these two lines reads:"and smell the iron and velvet bloom of heat." While this line was deleted, the version in A Ballad of Remembrance is still a sonnet. There are other variants between both versions; mostly relating to where the line breaks. 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 hadwho had In A Ballad of Remembrance: who’d driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know



of love’s austereaustere Grave, sober; and lacking adornment and lonely offices?

Read the poem out loud several times, paying special attention to the ways the

words sound coming out of your mouth; feel every distinct part of each word.


  • What does your mouth do as you say each word?

  • When is it open?

  • When is it closed?

  • When is the sound at the front of your mouth?

  • When is at the back?


Now consider the way the rhythm of these lines causes you to speed up

or slow down.


  • When do you labor?

  • When does one word flow easily into the next?


Make notes about what your mouth is doing on the text of the poem. After you

have explored the vocal demands of the text and noted them, make additional

notes about the feelings each image evokes. Consider the connection between

sounds and images. For example, you might note that it takes a little more work

to say the colloquial “got up” and “put on” than it does to say “rise” and “dress.”

Why might the poet have made that choice? Explain your ideas on the poem itself.

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