I chose this poem. Or, rather, it chose me, because of how much I could relate to it in my own life. My first impression of this poem was reminiscent. The poem intrigued me. Yet, at the same time it makes me disappointed . A line that particularly made me feel intrigued was, “then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday”. But suddenly disappointment arose for me when I read the lines, “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 …” This could be because of the emotions I hear my father express after a long day at work. Sometimes he complains about his feet hurting or even how he got a cut on his hand from the labor. And it pains me that I can’t help him, make things easier so he feels better.
What I know about the situation- is that the author is sharing the stories of a snowy sunday for him and his family, basically how his father would get up early and start working even though he must be tired from all the labor he spends doing every week. What I know about the speaker is that they are the kind of person who Sees the little things and feels bad afterwards. This is suggested by the words “then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. The speaker seems to be speaking about his father, and perhaps to himself . I say this because he’s sharing things about his sunday to us/his mind, He never clarifies if he’s talking to a person. Only talking ABOUT a person.
The poem doesn’t seem to spring from a particular historical moment or culture. The poem revolves around several themes, including innocence and memories. If this poem were a question, the answer would be “I saw/Thank you for all you’ve done ”. If it were an answer, the question would be “Why did he never take a break?/Does he need help?” The title suggests How things used to be.
The poem’s form is a Dramatic monologue . This form is a vehicle for the content of the poem. If the poem were, say, a Pastoral, it would not guide me toward an understanding of its meaning. These forms shape the meaning of the poem for me because of the way he speaks on the Sundays he’s experienced, and how they could relate to anyone with an older figure that may help them out a lot. He just wants us to listen/visualize, like he should have.
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.
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?