Vox Populi

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Video: Joe Biden and Elizabeth Alexander discuss “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

President Joe Biden, poet Elizabeth Alexander, psychologist Angela Duckworth, and a chorus of working fathers and sons join Poetry in America host Elisa New to reflect on Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays.”

This conversation was first aired on January 11, 2021 on Poetry in America on GBH in Boston.

Running time: 27 minutes

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

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?

4 comments on “Video: Joe Biden and Elizabeth Alexander discuss “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

  1. rosemaryboehm
    February 7, 2021

    Just one of my favourite poems and a reminder of my childhood where it wasn’t my father, but my mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Russell Buker
    February 7, 2021

    the blueback cold also refers to the bluing placed on rifles to keep them from rusting

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 7, 2021

      Wow! I taught that poem for years, and I’ve read or recited it a thousand times, and I grew up in the rural gun culture of the South, and yet the connection with rifle bluing never occurred to me. Thanks, Russell!

      Liked by 1 person

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