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April is the Coolest Month – Just Poets Favorite Poem for April 5

As part of National Poetry Month, Just Poets members will share their favorite poems along with a brief note about why the poem is their favorite poem. Today’s poem is selected by Sarah Freligh.

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Robert Hayden

Those Winter Sundays

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?

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Just Poets Member Statement

I can’t read this poem without crying, because of the penultimate line. The second “what did I know” suggests the speaker’s anguish and regret over what he didn’t or couldn’t know.

– Sarah Freligh

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“Those Winter Sundays” appears in Angle of Ascent, which is available by clicking here.

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