Through metaphors and meticulous word choice Robert Hayden illustrates people taking loved ones for granted in his poem, Those Winter Sundays. Words with negative connotations and the use of repetition underscores the underlying mood of remorse upon the speaker’s further reflection on their childhood. The sounds of the words when spoken and the choices the author made in choosing certain words is undoubtedly intentional in developing the dejected mood and overall message of taking loved ones for granted.
The strong consonant “K” sound in words such as blueblack, cracked, ached, weekday, banked, thanked, wake, breaking, call, and chronic develop a harsh, persecuting sound that contributes to the speaker’s regret for never thanking his/her father for the sacrifices he made. Hayden carefully chose words according to their connotations to contribute to the amount of substance packed into a fourteen-line poem. An example of this can be found in the word “splintering”. Rather than picking a neutral word, Hayden judiciously chose a word that symbolized the hash truth that the speaker and the father’s relationship is falling apart.
Repetition and diction also played a vital role in the creation of imagery and helped to add meaning to the poem. The repetition in “What did I know, What did I know” creates a sense of regret because the speaker did not understand all that the their father did for him. In the last line, the author writes “of loves austere and lonely offices. ” The word “austere” means unadorned; this word adds to underlying the neglect toward the father that goes out into the cold every morning to comfort his family.
“Offices” means a duty and the speaker says the offices are “lonely” because the author completes the tasks every morning by himself. Hayden’s choices in vocabulary and figures of speech aid in conveying the overall message of taking loved ones for granted. In Those Winter Sundays, the son never thanks his father for all he did and regrets not doing so upon further reflection. Because unconditional love and sacrifices are expected, many people do not realize how important family members are until they are gone. In conclusion, Hayden is illustrating that people should thank and recognize their loved ones for all they do.