Malek Allari | Editor-in-Chief
The poem discusses a bittersweet relationship between the narrator and his father and how his father might have been harsh on him. This poem will hit home to some people and will be a great reflection of oneself and their relationship with their parents. This poem is also suitable for reflecting on where everything went uphill or downhill.
First, a summary of the poem will be a narrator looking back at his father and the Sundays during the cold winter. He remembers his father waking up before anyone and lighting firewood to keep everyone warm. He remembers his father's hardships and how spoiled he is and ungrateful his father is. It also talked about the sacrifices parents must make for their children to be happy, educated, or alive. As I reread the poem, I learned that the father works in manual labor, “With cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze” (Hayden, lines 3-5). The line insinuates that his father did manual labor, which is taxing and strenuous on the body," proving that we need to know what the father does for a living.
Sometimes, children do not see or feel the sacrifices their parents made for them. As children, we take everything for granted and live our lives expecting everything to be provided. We talked about how we sometimes need to remember to thank our parents or never thank them enough. From my personal experience, I have seen and felt what my parents have to go through at such a young age, and I always have been grateful to them. I remind them daily on the phone how much I love and thank them, but it also feels too late to feel this way now when I have already grown up. This also ties it to the poem, line 13, "What did I know, what did I know," here makes sense in a way that the poet or the narrator is having a breaking moment of crying because he realized all the work and harshness of life that his dad, "No one ever thanked him," (line 5), and that he never said thank you or showed any gratitude or appreciation towards his father.
As for the poem's last line, the line we got stuck upon is "love's austere and lonely offices." As I mentioned earlier, the repetition of "what did I know" is a breaking point where the reader can guess that the narrator is crying. However, when it comes to "austere and lonely offices," there is a play of words and vocabulary here. Austere means "harsh," lonely means "alone," and offices could mean a few things, "like a place to work," which is the most common use of the word. "Offices" here, in this poem, means "duty." This concludes the realization of the narrator that his father's early morning of making the fire is love in action. All the sacrifices are love in action. It means that Love is a harsh and lonely duty, which contradicts the form of love of being Not lonely.