In the first stanza of this poem, the narrator recounts the cold winter sundays when his father would warm their house before he awoke. The beginning tone is loving and sweet because the father wakes up early to do this without being asked or thanked, "...with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blazes" This kind act, shows the fathers love for his family. The descriptions of the fathers "cracked hands" that "ached from labor" show that he must work hard to provide for his family and truly cares about them when he gets up early in the "blueback cold" to make a fire. The first line starts oddly, "Sundays too my father got up early", instead of the regular "On sunday", the author chose a more mid-conversational beginning, suggesting the fathers actions on previous cold days. Saying "Sundays too..." could be in addition to the rest of the week that he gets up early to make fires. This just shows how often the father does this for his family and how much he really cares for them. The last line "No one ever thanked him" alludes to the feeling in the household, where no one every praised the fathers good deeds. This also foreshadowed the impending tone shift in the next two stanzas.
The last line of the next stanza, "fearing the chronic angers of that house", exposes the hidden anger living inside the home to the reader. This changes the tone from innocent to more somber, like there are more secrets inside the home. The child/speaker talks to their father, " indifferently" and doesn't seem to appreciate their father and what small loving things he does. The foreshadowing of the "chronic angers" of the house, gives justification to the childs reaction and demeanor towards their father. The last two lines hint at an almost sadness for not having shown this appreciation before, "What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?" The fathers love, was a "lonely office" where only he dwelt. The child never recipricated the love of the father. Although the love was flawed, ("chronic anger of that house") and not always perfect, the father really truly loved his family.
sestina: six words
8 years ago