Le Minh Tri Nguyen - Essay

Father's Boundless Love 

Have you ever shown your love or gratitude to your father? If not, then this essay is perfect for you, and if yes, then it will help you to appreciate your father's sacrifice even more. In this world, parents are the ones who will always adore their kids no matter what. Mom is the one who constantly shares and looks out for her kids, paying close attention to every meal and sleep. Whenever there is a good or sad tale, she is a friend with whom you can always share it. However, the father is different, he never expresses his love for his children. Father is usually a quiet sacrifice for his kids since he loves them so much but doesn't know how to express it to the outer world. 

Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" is one of many excellent poems on fathers. The author's childhood memory of his father's invisible sacrifice is the inspiration for the poem. Only when he reached adulthood (or became a parent) did the author realize all the struggles a father endured in order to take care of his family. Three key symbols, "Winter Sundays,” the title, "cracked hands" (line 3), and "fire" (line 5) were used by Robert to describe his father’s boundless love.

Robert primarily conveys the symbolism of "Winter Sundays" through the poem's title, which foreshadows a dark event that will occur in the poem. First, we believe that "Winter" is a season that is characterized by extreme cold. When compared to other seasons, why winter? Perhaps because the author wants to highlight the fact that this is the final and worst of the four seasons. Humans are not immune to the dread that the winter's cold may kill us if we are not properly prepared. We will quickly conjure images of wintertime in frigid blue tones, which frequently bring up images of sorrow, supporting the poem's depressing mood. 

Furthermore, "Winter" is a season of inaction when everything is essentially "frozen" in expectation of something (spring for example). And "Sundays" will make us feel calm and relaxed because it's a day off for individuals to recharge. We wonder, why Sunday and not the other days? Because he intended to emphasize everyone's "vacation", the author purposefully chose Sunday. "Winter Sundays" will have a striking contrast when the two words are put together. We experience sadness on one side while experiencing delight on the other. 

However, it has a deeper significance that the father in the poem still gets up early to go to work even though it is his day off on this chilly winter day. From there, the father's anguish can be summarized in the two words "Winter Sundays.” The two words don't mean anything outstanding, but their emphasis on one another makes this season among the toughest of the year. The father in the poem wakes up early out of habit to provide for his small family, regardless of the weather or the day on the weekend. After enduring those rigors, perhaps the father is looking forward to something, just as winter is waiting for spring. Robert is so talented that with just two simple words, he helps readers understand the negativity through just the symbol “Winter Sundays.”

Next, the author utilizes the image of a "cracked hand" (line 3) to illustrate the father's sacrifice for both his son as well as his family. Many people believe that a hand must be soft and uncracked in order to be attractive; however, it is apparent that for the author "cracked hand" is the most wonderful hand. Most of the time, when we read poems about fathers, we see the ugly side of fathers rather than the beautiful side. But first, we must comprehend why a regular hand might turn into a "cracked hand.” Although it appears to be a rough hand, it actually has incredible beauty inside. This beauty is the beauty of labor. The father in the poem is not required to work during the week; instead, he might be required to perform manual labor through the weekend. 

Additionally, he had to leave early for work on chilly days. As a result, we can see that his "cracked hand.” is a result of the sacrifice he made for his family and kids. If the author hadn't felt that cracked hand in the past, Robert would be certain that his father's hand is the most exquisite hand in the world. The hand is evidence of the father's unnoticed work and sacrifice. Without that ugly hand, neither the author nor his family would have a happy and prosperous life. All the hardest and heaviest things belong to the father. From there, it becomes clear why the author respects the "cracked hand.” so highly. That hand is nothing to anyone, but to children (especially the author), a father's hand is unquestionably the most beautiful hand. Even if the hand is not warm, it will undoubtedly bring the family warm things.

Last but not least, the author uses the image of "fires" (Robert, line 5) to express the father's love. The term "fires" itself has many powerful connotations. The first thing that comes to mind when we heard the word "fires" is strength and devastation. However, it represents heat in this poem, a warmth that every child desires. The only thing that can defrost out the chilly "Winters" is "fires," which is the only thing appearing that can warm the entire poem. The stark contrast between the cold and the heat demonstrates the significance of fire in this poetry. In fact, the father in the poem utilized fire to warm his family and drive away the winter chill. He sacrificed his sleep to wake up and warm the house before everyone else was awake. 

Additionally, "fires" serves as a reminder of life. If this poem is characterized by the bitter cold of winter, and the "fires" that will make us feel life, feel the love of a father for his family. In comparison to the huge cold, he is shown as a small fire that is nevertheless sufficient to heat his entire home, which shows us a home full of pleasure and joy. This fire will never be extinguished by the cold of winter, but instead causes it to grow larger and larger, signifying the father's unwavering love for his kid. Although a gentle love, it has an unsurpassed scorching love hidden deep inside.

In short, through the three symbols, the title, "Winter Sundays," the phrase “cracked hand,” and the word "fires, the poet Robert has masterfully captured the limitless love in the father's silence. Unlike mothers who will always be friends and always accompany their children, fathers will always be behind to safeguard their beloved children when they need it. Dad is not too ostentatious but silently sacrifices his whole life for them. Through the poem, we will feel the author's regret for not saying words of love to his father. In order to avoid regretting it like the poem’s author, if someone still has a father, please love and express gratitude to them. Fathers deserve to hear those words, so don't allow shyness or fear to stand in your way.

Works Cited

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1962.

About the Writer

Le Minh Tri Nguyen (Tri) was born and raised in Vietnam. They have been in the US since 2019 It wasn't too long, but it was enough for me to adapt and study in this foreign country. They are currently a third-year student at Mission School and plan to transfer to SJSU next year. Their current major is Software Engineering, a really hard industry, but they love being exposed to computers and math.