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Thread: Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays, The Whipping.

  1. #1

    Default Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays, The Whipping.

    Brother Morris (and all), are you familiar with the poetry of Robert Hayden. I have been reading him this weekend (can you recommend anything?) and particularly moved by these:

    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?


    The Whipping

    The old woman across the way
    is whipping the boy again
    and shouting to the neighborhood
    her goodness and his wrongs.

    Wildly he crashes through elephant ears,
    pleads in dusty zinnias,
    while she in spite of crippling fat
    pursues and corners him.

    She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling
    boy till the stick breaks
    in her hand. His tears are rainy weather
    to woundlike memories:

    My head gripped in bony vise
    of knees, the writhing struggle
    to wrench free, the blows, the fear
    worse than blows that hateful

    Words could bring, the face that I
    no longer knew or loved . . .
    Well, it is over now, it is over,
    and the boy sobs in his room,

    And the woman leans muttering against
    a tree, exhausted, purged--
    avenged in part for lifelong hidings
    she has had to bear.
    Last edited by pm01; 05-29-2007 at 09:14 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays, The Whipping.

    Beautiful words Brother PM! I love the term "chronic angers" and sometimes use it in family therapy sessions to try and convey how children might view their parents "occasional" blow-up or low level "grouchiness". I like this one of Haydens poems, based on an infamous prison not far from paradise:

    The Prisoners


    Steel doors – guillotine gates –
    of the doorless house closed massively.
    We were locked in with loss.

    Guards frisked us, marked our wrists,
    then let us into the drab Rec Hall –
    splotched green walls, high windows barred –

    where the dispossessed awaited us.
    Hands intimate with knife and pistol,
    hands that had cruelly grasped and throttled

    clasped ours in welcome. I sensed the plea
    of men denied: Believe us human
    like yourselves, who but for Grace ...

    We shared reprieving Hidden Words
    revealed by the Godlike imprisoned
    One, whose crime was truth.

    And I read poems I hoped were true.
    It's like you been there, brother, been there,
    the scarred young lifer said.

    Robert Hayden

    Thanks for reminding us about Mr. Hayden Brother PM. How are things going for you these days?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays, The Whipping.

    Brother Morris, all is well here. I hope it's even better there for you. I'm bachelor'ing it for a few months so in respite I'm leaving for a weekend to read and maybe write.

    Thank you for The Prisoners. Hayden was quite a writer despite his difficult childhood, or, maybe because of it. The Prisoners sent me searching through old books to find a similar poem: Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane by Etheridge Knight. If you haven't read it in a while, it's worth reading again, my friend. Sometimes it seems the dead can not be buried. Poems with a shadow are the best poems indeed.


    http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/E...ge-Knight/7077

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