The poet Robert Hayden is one of the most gifted and discrete poets in American and African American poetry. His poetry depicts the plight of the African-Americans in meet the demands of the way of life and race. His works portray the concept in a way that how one thinks about the extensive choices of language, and the conversion strength of art. His works also celebrate the importance of a human soul. The poet is passionately dedicated to the field of craft and poetry. His symbolic compactness comes from his alteration of technical factors. Most of his work is highly economical, depending on compression, underestimation, collocation, and montage, which make up the highly textured and distinct irony.
The poet pays tribute to his adoptive father showing the efficiency of understatement, concision and creative imagery. Integrated with the respectful memories of the step-father is his comprehension of gratitude that commonly comes with age. He is embarrassed of having made assumptions of the self-sacrificing roles performed daily by his hard-working parent. Hayden commonly uses the word 'too' which has several meanings in his works. As it is the case almost everywhere, Sunday is a day of relaxation when people sleep longer hours than on the weekdays. The poet states that this is not the case with his adoptive father who woke up early and went about the duties. That made the other members of the family not comfortable.
The main images represent the cold and heat, which are portrayed visually and discernibly. In the second line of stanza one, Hayden talks about the "blue black cold" which makes the poet to remember his childhood days he spent in the shanty neighborhood of Detroit in winter. The cold temperatures depicted in the poem exceeded the room temperature and Hayden’s father was trying to heat the rooms by turning “banked fires blaze”. However, no one in the family appreciated father’s efforts and struggling to fight the cold at home. The poet uses past tense in his works to depict the regrets he has for not being appreciative of his father efforts and dawning on him.
In verse two of the poem, the words "cold, splintering breaking" fortify the image of the "blue-black" ice that was created formerly and was majorly situational. The word "splintering" forms the loud and visual image. The "chronic angers" indicate the gloominess of the domestic condition and an uncomfortable heat or chill in the home. It never struck the young person in the poem to show gratitude to the man who woke up early to warm the house and brush the shoes so that his child would wear to church.
The poet's shame and penitence are responsive in his final rhetorical questions. The first "What did I know" shows a generalized lack of awareness and comprehension of the self-sacrifice of others. The second "what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices" shows mature apprehension of the tasks one carries out willingly and in separation for the sake of the loved ones. The choice of "offices" as the poem's concluding word is excellent in its representative, and suggestive expression of roles dutifully carried out without a thought of appreciation. .
The word "austere" depicts not only the duties carried out, but also the person carrying them out. The poet also employs other stylistic devices in his works. These include repetition such as in the case of ' what did I know '. The rhetoric question meant to emphasize the fact the person in the poem knew nothing about the sacrifices of other people. Moreover, consonance has also been used in the case of ''were warm'' that was meant to create musicality in the poem.