Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Great Poem

Those Winter Sundays
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?

We read this in composition today. I ask what the speaker's father is like. How did the speaker feel about his father when he was a child? How does he feel now? Then I ask them to think of something (or someone) of whom they think differently now than as a child. How did their previous feelings compare to current ones? What is responsible for the change? We spend about twenty minutes free writing and sharing (some of us) what we wrote. I did a separate one for each section. As always, I'm amazed and humbled by what students share -- both with me in their writing and with each other.

I fault myself for so many deficiencies. I lack, I lack, I lack. But I do create an environment in which students feel comfortable sharing, where--I hope--they don't feel judged.

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