Happy Father's Day

Today we honor fathers. Neo-neocon has posted a poem from the poet Robert Hayden:

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?

That seems a good beginning. Does anyone else have a favorite poem about fathers?


Kelly said...

My Papa's Waltz
~ Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

raven said...

He never once tried to stop me riding that thing, but counseled me on torque spec's and crack propagation, and nodded when I said it handled best under power.

Two of us in college, and two in Vietnam, and one rebel child, and somehow he held it all together. He was born in Northern New Hampshire, but from the talk I hear around here, could have just as easy come from Texas or Georgia.

Of all the things he loved, besides his family, most was the stretch of vision from ridge to ridge without a sign of human habitation to mar the gaze. Many a day we spent in the wild with canoe and pole, backpack and boots.

Half his ashes lie with his wife, and the rest we scattered to the wind along the Kongakut, high in the arctic . We enjoyed a campfire and a cold beer there once, a good place to rest.

Grim said...

You know, I can't think of a good poem about a happy relationship with one's father. There are some songs -- "Daddy Sang Bass" -- but it's surprisingly rare.

Tom said...

There's a lot like that, though. The happy songs tend to be pop-ish, and the serious songs tend to be tragic. In my opinion, we don't celebrate joy enough, but I think humans are wired that way.

Grim said...

On reflection, I can't think of any father-son poem more than "Harold the Dauntless" by Sir Walter Scott.

List to the valorous deeds that were done
By Harold the Dauntless, Count Witikind’s son!
Count Witikind came of a regal strain,
And roved with his Norsemen the land and the main.
Woe to the realms which he coasted! for there
Was shedding of blood, and rending of hair,
Rape of maiden, and slaughter of priest,
Gathering of ravens and wolves to the feast:
When he hoisted his standard black,
Before him was battle, behind him wrack,
And he burn’d the churches, that heathen Dane,
To light his band to their barks again.

The frame is that the father goes Christian, and the son disdains him; but by the end of the poem, he sees the light and goes Christian as well, becoming a Christian knight to marry a Christian maiden.