There are a number of techniques the poet uses to convey his feelings for his father in this poem.
The title of the poem establishes the tone and subject of the poem. The poet is recollecting Sundays when he was young and has a negative tone. This first line, ‘Sundays too my father got up early’ suggests that the father gets up early every other day of the week and Sundays are no exception. This is followed up when the poet adds that his hands are ‘cracked’ and ‘ached from labour in the weekday weather. These images make us sympathize with the father; we see that he is suffering to make his family happy and comfortable.
His suffering is further emphasized by the word ‘blue black’ (made-up word or neologism) used to describe the cold. Also, the consonance, ‘cracked, ached, cold, chronic’, which has a hard “c” sound which once again, emphasizes his pain and discomfort. At the end of the stanza there is a shocking statement, ‘no one ever thanked him’, emphasized by the shortness of the sentence. This is unexpected and brings a sense of regret from the poet. It also further portrays the isolation and suffering of the father in his attempts to make his family happy.
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The second stanza mirrors the first in that it is the poet’s view of the morning routine. In contrast with his father, he gets up ‘slowly’ as if it is such a burden to get up, even though the house is warm thanks to his father. This parallel connection adds to the regret of the poet, he realizes he was lucky to be able to wake to a warm house, unlike his father.
At the end of this stanza, there is another unexpected line where the poet refers to there being ‘chronic anger’ in the household. He does not elaborate on these fears and we are left to guess whether he feared his father’s disappointment or maybe just the cold. Though, it is clear the anger was always there, just a part of the morning as the routine.
In the last stanza, we really begin to get the feeling of regret the poet is trying to convey. The first line, ‘speaking indifferently to him’ once again makes us feel sympathy towards the father and is reinforced by adding helpful things the father has done, ‘driven out the cold,’ ‘polished my good shoes’. The last two lines summarise the pet’s feelings towards his father. ‘What did I know, what did I know, repetition of these words almost makes it seem like the poet is pleading. When he was young he did not understand his father’s gestures of love and expected love to be shown in obvious ways, ‘ love’s austere and lonely offices’.
In the end, we notice that the poet conveys sympathy towards his father throughout the poem to emphasize that he regrets not being able to return his love. We also realize that there is a lot left unspoken throughout the poem. There are never direct quotes and whatever communication there is seems routine. And perhaps it is this lack of communication that causes the anger in the house because they both aren’t able to wither understand one form of love (father to son) or communicate theirs (son father).
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