Those Winter Sundays SMILE

Those Winter Sundays SMILE
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Those Winter Sundays Summary & Activities

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Lesson Plans by Bridget Baudinet

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.

SMILE Lesson Plans

SMILE Poetry Analysis

Lesson Plans by Bridget Baudinet

Students unfamiliar or uncomfortable with poetry often struggle to understand new poems. In many cases, students do not know the most effective steps with which to approach a challenging poem. When this is the case, simple mnemonic devices like SMILE can help them get started.

Those Winter Sundays

Storyboard Description

Teaching Poems: Those Winter Sundays SMILE poem analysis

Storyboard Text

  • S - Structure
  • M - Meaning
  • I - Imagery
  • L - Language
  • E - Effect
  • I'm sorry, Dad. I love you.
  • This three-stanza, free verse poem is narrated by an adult son remembering his father’s care during his childhood. He begins by describing the painful physical labor his father performed in the cold each morning. The second stanza contrasts the son’s more relaxed morning with his father’s selfless chores. In the last stanza, the speaker laments his youthful inability to recognize and reciprocate his father’s acts of love.
  • Although he was not a warm man, the speaker's father showed love daily through small, unappreciated acts. As he recalls his past, the now-adult speaker feels a mixture of gratitude and guilt. The poem reminds readers of the sacrifices parents make for their children and of the often silent and invisible nature of love.
  • The dominant images in the poem are of cold and heat. The speaker's childhood home is cold, and his relationship with his father seems stiff, yet each day his father sacrifices his own comfort to build a fire and warm the house. The fire and its warmth are representations of the father's love.
  • The cold is emphasized through diction and sound devices. The "blueblack cold" created "cracked hands that ached" along with sounds of "splintering" and "breaking" in the house. Alliteration with the letters "b" and "c" highlight the change of breaking, chattering, and shivering. This brutal language makes the father's sacrifice seem greater.
  • The speaker’s nostalgic tone evokes a sense of regret and sadness. Readers may share this sorrow and be moved to appreciate the small acts of love their family members perform.
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