Simon J. Ortiz's "My Father's Essay

Total Length: 651 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

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The title of Hayden's poem creates a mood, tone, and setting. Winter is a time of retreat and frigid weather, and imagery of cold permeates the poem. Coldness is also the core emotion that the speaker conveys. The cold is "blueblack," which also signals a possible bruise, as if the father was indeed abusive. The father had "cracked hands that ached," which were not from the cold, though, but from his hard work, his labor in the "weekday weather."

Imagery of "splintering and breaking" is contrasted with the powerful last line of "Those Winter Sundays," which refers to "love's austere and lonely offices." Love is neither austere nor lonely in Simon Ortiz's "My Father's Song." In "My Father's Song," the imagery is far more summery. Like the speaker in "Those Winter Sundays," the speaker in "My Father's Song" refers to his dad's manual labor in the fields. Yet labor did not break his spirit as it did to the speaker in Hayden's poem. Instead, labor and hardship seems to have made the father stronger and more emotionally resilient.
The compassion he shows for the family of mice is an intense anecdote that testifies as to the nature of the father.

"My Father's Song" is in many ways more about the father than the son; whereas "Those Winter Sundays" is more about the relationship between father and son. Yet both poems are ultimately about the perception of the father from the perspective of a son. Therefore, both Ortiz and Hayden refer subtly to conceptions of masculinity in modern society. In both cases, the fathers labor and receive little in terms of social, economic, and political empowerment. The way they deal with that blow to personal pride and self-esteem is different, but their sons appreciate them no matter what.

Works Cited

Hayden, Robert. "Those Winter Sundays." Retrieved online:

Ortiz, Simon J. "My Father's Song." Retrieved online:

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