Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” is one of his most memorable works. Appropriate for middle and high school students, the poem reminds readers of the silent, thankless acts of love that we often fail to notice. In many cases, the most selfless instances of love are the least glamorous. “Those Winter Sundays” is a wonderful poem to study around Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, or any occasion for remembering those who have helped us along the way while teaching poems.
Robert Hayden was a highly acclaimed African American poet of the 20th century. He published over ten poetic volumes throughout his lifetime and was the first African American poet laureate of the United States, serving from 1976-1978. Hayden’s childhood was difficult, and he spent most of it living in foster care. Many of his works were influenced by his own experiences, but he wrote masterfully in a number of different voices. The point of view of “Those Winter Sundays” is particularly important. Teachers might consider beginning their classroom study of the poem with a discussion of the voice. The identity and motivation of the speaker make good starting points for extended analysis. For more information on Robert Hayden, visit the Poetry Foundation.