Three Lyric Poems

Hello!

This week we are studying the short lyric poem as a category. Here are three examples that range from the 8th century to our own. I’ve decided not to post the “Poet’s CHoice” introduction for the week because I think it would be redundant. This is the place where we’ll pre and post talk the introduction, certainly though, we will be attentive to what the poet’s choice introduction alerted us to.

On another note, please be aware that the poet’s choice introduction is supposed to address the formal aspects of the poem (stanzas, rhythm, rhyme scheme, sound etc…) and meant to be accompanied by a written essay (not a power point alone, though adding a power point to it is fine) 2-5 pages in length. I will have a stack of the expectations for this assignment in class today (it has also been sent in an email previously).

It is a delight to read your entries here and hear people think aloud but in the privacy of their own rooms about these poems. Keep up the meditative work.

You don’t need to commment on each poem unless you’d like to. Chose one, or compare/contrast them, or explore the category they are in (short lyric) in relationship to the poem itself.

A Mountain Spring
Ch’u Ch’uang I (early 8th century)

There is a brook in the mountains,
Nobody I ask knows its name.
It shines on the earth like a piece
Of the sky. It falls away
In waterfalls, with a sound
Like rain. IT twists between rocks
And makes deep pools. It divides
Into islands. It flows through
Calm reaches. It goes its way
With no one to mind it. The years
Go by, its clear depths never change.

Those Winter Sundays
(Robert Hayden 1913-1982)

Sunday’s 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?

Morning Song
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place amoong the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window spare

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
You handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

46 Responses to “Three Lyric Poems”

  1. Marah Drooger says:

    This poem by Sylvia Plath is intriguing and mysterious. It starts off with the theme of love. But throughout it, I sense almost a pull towards the sadness and despair of the mother. It is almost a battle between the joys of motherhood and the trials of post-partum depression. Her child is everything, brought into the world so deeply loved. Just like a “fat gold watch” the baby is set “going” by love. It is interesting that she choices to compare the child to a watch. It is something set apart, but so very valuable. But the cries of the child “took its place among the elements.” It echoed throughout the world. The child became an important part of the earth. I picture the joy and wonder, and how awestruck someone becomes whenever seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time or a shark up close at the museum. The person becomes speechless. The child is this beautiful work of art. The onlookers of the beautiful act of nature “stand round blankly as walls.” As if no one has ever seen anything quite so beautiful. This joy and happiness if overcome by a sense of sadness. Time has begun for this child. The mother knows that from every day on, the child will grow more and more independent. The child will reflect the mother, but as sure as the wind, the child we learn to go its own way. Just as in other short lyric poems, this comes full circle, back to were it began. The mother goes to answer the cries of the child. It is in this moment, in the room with the child, “the window square”, she realizes that her and her child still have that special bond. The room isolates them from the world and the mother can return to the intimacy with the child. It is almost as though the child becomes fully human. The child simply cries, like music to the mother. She no longer compares the cry to a wide open cat’s mouth like in the previous stanza. The mother and child find peace.

  2. Anne Johnston says:

    “A Mountain Spring” by Ch’u Ch’uang was one of my favorite lyric poems out of all of them. This poem flowed very well. I think it is because it did not have rhymes at the end of the lines, so there was no division, and the reader is able to read right through. I also like how this poem was descriptive, but it was not descriptive with adjectives, but verbs. I learned about this mountain spring by all of thee things that it did. It falls, twists, makes, divides, flows, goes, and never changes. But yet, this stream is so anonymous, because in line two, the speaker makes it known that he or she does no know its name, nor does anyone he or she asks. This spring seems to symbolize the unsung hero in a community. People can see its actions, and all that it does. And these actions clearly make a noticeable difference, but yet, the stream and the hero are not popular. There names are not spoken, and glory is not given to them, but people indulge and recognize the differences they make. Lyric poems usually intend to teach a lesson, and this one seems to teach the lesson of making a change, but not to bring glory to yourself.

  3. Jennie Riccio says:

    I really enjoyed the poem, “Morning Song” by Sylvia Plath. This poem’s main image is of a newborn baby and the baby’s mother. The speaker of the poem is the mother, and as the poem progresses, the baby gradually moves away from the mother. The baby enters the poem when he/she is born. Then it moves away from the mother and begins to cry and coo on its own.

    Plath uses a lot of simile to describe the experience of birth and becoming a mother. I am not a parent, but I think it would be very shocking to have a new life come into the world even though I have been preparing for the birth for the last nine months.

    It is also interesting that Plath included the stanza in the middle that says “I am no more your mother/ Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow/ Effacement at the wind’s hand,” because it is saying that once a child is born, anyone can become the parent. Even though the mother has put all the effort into carrying the baby for nine months, in the moment of detachment, the mother is there to raise the child rather than claim it as her own. I guess this raises the question: What makes a mother?

  4. Emily Pratt says:

    The speaker in “A Mountain Spring” only notices this little brook in the mountains because of its unique shininess and its sound which brings to mind rain drops. I like how the second line implies that he or she has been asking around about the name of the brook. Why does he care about the name of this little mountain spring? Why does he assume that it even has a name? I think he finds it deeply beautiful, and assumes that someone before him, anyone, must have come across this wondrous little brook and given it a proper name. It makes an impressionable journey, dividing around islands, twisting between rocks. More than its beauty though, I think it is the ironic consistency of this moving and journeying spring that the speaker respects so much. Over the years, “its clear depths never change.” How many of us can say that about ourselves? Even though we travel, change locations, compensate for the obstacles we encounter, and meet new people who mold us throughout our lives, we should strive to maintain the depth of our character that has always been solely ours, not changing who we truly are for anyone. We cannot allow others to define us. Maybe the spring doesn’t have a name because it has “no one to mind it,” and therefore no one to place a label upon it.

  5. Elizabeth Reininga says:

    I really like Those Winter Sundays. I think that the imagery is so amazing and really powerful. I was reminded instantly of the fact that I really do not appreciate my parents enough for what they do. They are always awake before me, and working so hard, and often times I do not get to see the hard work that they do. I was reminded that they keep the house warm, the ’shine my shoes’ (do laundry, clean up after me, put food on the table, drive me places), and they are always there for me. Obviously many of these things I do on my own now, but it is something that I never paused to think about when I was younger.

    Years from now, when I look at my mom and dad’s hands and see all the wrinkles, I will think back and remember that a lof of them represent the things that they did for me. The devotion that they showed to taking care of me and raising me. This poem has really given me a sense of greatfulness. The emotion that I feel is truly fantastic.

  6. Christine Kelly says:

    I’m really taken with the poem, “A Mountain Spring.” I’m intrigued by its age (dating all the way back to the eight century!), its simplicity, and its powerful imagery.

    The poem’s speaker appears to be fascinated with “a brook in the mountains.” He is allured by it, as if the brook conveys an air of mystery. “Nobody [he asks] knows its name,” and it is hidden within the protective covering of mountainous forestry. Yet for all its secrecy, the brook is very beautiful. “It shines on the earth like a piece of the sky…” One can easily imagine clear, easy-flowing water dancing along the bed of the stream.

    This brook seems to be a source of great peace to the speaker as well. He uses such phrases as “…with a sound like rain” and “it flows through the calm reaches” to share this message.

    I’m also interested in the end of the poem, where the speaker points out the brook’s going “its way with no one to mind it.” The brook isn’t controlled by anyone or anything, it simply moves along as it desires. And the brook’s freedom has been of sincere benefit – “the years go by [and] its clear depths never change.”

    Maybe the speaker wants to be like the brook. Perhaps he desires the sort of freedom the brook has. No one minds it, it lies hidden in the woods, and its solitude has allowed it to grow into a lovely part of its surroundings. This poem is very soft and contemplative. I find it to be quiet and serene yet able to convey some vivid imagery. I also love it’s age. It’s such an old poem, allowing the reader to see into the thoughts of someone from the distant past.

  7. erin emenheiser says:

    I have to write about this particular poem because it strikes a chord with me. I (and I suspect many of you) grew up in a privileged society that often takes for granted all the sacrifices that the parents make for their children. But that’s not what stands out at me about this poem. Here I am impressed with how the poet began his poem: in medias res, it seems. There is no introduction or background information to prepare the audience for the following story, but instead the narrative begins immediately. Even the words “Sundays too” begin in the middle of an idea—the poet doesn’t take the time to tell his audience that his father woke up early on the weekdays as well.

    In class we discussed the implications of the phrase “fearing the chronic angers of that house,” meaning the arguments that the poet’s mother and father would frequently have. However, when I first read it, I imagined an old creaky house, so old that with every step on the wooden floor one fears it splintering in. I specifically remember from my childhood laying awake at night listening to the floorboards creaking and moaning under the weight of my parent’s feet as they moved around, finishing up the last of the day’s chores and crawling into bed. This to me is also an expression of my appreciation for my parents.

  8. Mellissa Woltemate says:

    The Poem Mountain Spring, really has beautiful imagery. It makes me think of how our class talked about images and how and image can bring back a memory, or strike and emotion. It is a very peaceful poem, but for me a happy peom as well. It just brings back the memory of being young and going out on an adventure to the nearby creek. I can remember observing the water myself as the poet has, just watching the ripples in the current and wanting to feel the cool water splash over my foot. Also the rythm of the poem itself suggest that it is a very peaceful poem. Seems just like a heaven on earth, where the poet can sit and get lost in there thoughts, have the time to observe where the water is going and how it breaks, and curves around obsticles. Like I said in class it seems like something that a child would observe. It makes me think back to when I thought like that, and how actually beautiful and amazing it was to ask such odd questions about absolutley nothing anyone cared about. I still find my self dazing off watching the wind blow through the trees, and wondering why we don’t see the wind, or how many seeds are floating through the air carelessly. It just seems silly to think that way when we are adults, but in fact it should be considered stimulating.

  9. Rachel Fegley says:

    In A Mountain Spring, the brook described is beautiful – as seen by the comparison to seeming like a piece taken from the sky. It is also very mysterious because no one knows its name. It appears to dabble through life unknown, yet content. Then again, it is compared to a more human-like feature, such as life. It goes wherever it pleases, for example, between rocks, down waterfalls, and makes deep pools by collection. The years of life go by just like the brook and its path. We never know where life is going to take us, but we know of its never-ending journey. The tone of this poem is calm and content, which alludes to the brook helping to paint a vivid picture in my mind of a mindless, yet childlike body of water weaving in and out of a mountain. It is hidden in the mountains and its name is unknown. It is lovely and bright as a piece from the sky, yet it is still secretive. The imagery and feeling-provoking thoughts are evident with this short lyric poem. In a short lyric poem, thoughts are expressed both subjectively and feelings are evident, often portrayed in a songlike style or form. I took this poem to relate to people’s lives through the comparison to life and its continuous journey.

  10. Angela Amissah says:

    Those winter Sundays seems to speak to those who have ever taken their parents for granted, which wold be all of us. We often times don’t realize the things that they sacrafice. It is understood that children don’t always see recognize all of th things that a parent will do in the background to help a child. In the poem this would be starting the fire and shining the suthors shoes in order for him to be ready for the next day. In the sence outside of the physical realm, our parents are always doing whatever they can to make sure that we are safe and to prepare us for the life that is ahead of us.
    Parents, often times, have a thankless job. It says in the poem “Sunday’s Too my father got up early… with cracked hands that ache… no one ever thanked him.” This shows theduty that the father has to his family. The thankless unthought of actions that he took to make sure that everything was as it was supposed to be. Yet the author speaks of how he would be indifferent to him. It soes a sense of respect for his father in the poem. He says “ What did I know…” it is almost the sese that he can never take back the fact htat he did not apprecaite his father, he can only know that it was up to him to remember what his father did now.

  11. Tim Worrell says:

    I enjoyed all of the poems this week, but “Those Winter Sundays” was especially meaningful to me. Not only did it remind me of my own father’s acts of love for me, but it also helped to deepen my perspective of love itself. I think that our culture promotes a view of love which is, in many ways, only surface deep. Through movies and television we have been given the idea of romantic love as a passionate feeling. This is the view of love that I have been inculcated with, and I’m sure that many others have as well. However, I don’ t think that this completely sums up what true love is, and what true love should be about. When the transitory feelings fade away there has to be something deeper that is more truly definitive of love. My philosphy teacher once defined love as “a commitment to treat others with dignity, respect, and kindness”, and I’ve always liked that definition. This type of love may often include “austere and lonely offices”, as the poet mentions. To me this love is far more meaningful, even though it may not be as noticable to others. I’ve actually been thinking about this issue recently related to aspcets of my own life, and so reading this poem made it hit home even more. For example I know that people in my life have often loved me in ways that I haven’t always noticed. For example, my Dad works incredibly hard and does alot of things for me that are easy to take for granted. On the other hand I’ve often loved others – be it family, friends, etc. – even when they haven’t really seemed to notice or appreciate it. For me the commitment to treat others appropriately will always be important, and this poem has certainly helped to reconfirm that.

  12. Nicole Trimmer says:

    The Hayden poem, Those Winter Sundays, is a poem that touched me a lot. One of the things that stands out to me is how the words chosen are so extreme. It is evident that Hayden now realizes the extent to which his dad sacrificed for him–not only did his father get up to make a fire, he made them blaze. Not only did he warm the house, but he had “driven out the cold”. He didn’t just clean his shoes, he polished them, and the cold didn’t just leave, it splintered and broke. This language is sharp and concise, perfect for a lyric poem.

    The line that seems most out of place is line 9; the “chronic angers”. It’s evident that one who drives out the cold is motivated by a sense of responsibility and love, and chronic anger doesn’t seem to be a trait that fits along with those characteristics.
    There is a sense of regret in the poem in my opinion, particularly indicated by line 14 where “what did I know” is said twice. It’s almost like when someone asks, “why? why?” and is having emotional difficulty coming to terms with something.
    At least the speaker seems to understand the love his father showed him. I’m sure that no matter how I treat my parents I still will think that the love I showed was not enough, however. I think my parents deserve more love than I will be able to give them.

  13. Andrea Thomas says:

    I liked the lyric poem, “Mountain Spring,” by CH’U CH’UANG. I enjoyed its peaceful tone. The sense that time is passing by, but it isn’t important. The speaker does not seem worried by the passing of time. They don’t seem rushed to back to reality. They are enjoying the nature and beauty of the spring. The imagery in this poem was really strong. Another thing I found interesting with the imagery of the poem was the structure. As I was reading it, I realized my eyes were swerving back and forth the whole way down the poem. It was as if my eyes were making a squiggly line down the page. This represents the brook or spring in the poem. A spring is not a straight line, it winds and curves through the woods. The poem has the same wavy, curvy flow. This is due to the enjambment of the lines because just about every line ran over to the next, which does not allow the natural pause most people place at the end of a line of poetry. This allows for smooth reading of the poem; which also symbolizes the smooth flow of the spring.

  14. Jessica Grim says:

    Today in class, when we broke down Sylvia Plath’s “Morning Song,”I really saw and felt a connection that I never saw in a poem before. This poem really put the image in my head of what it was like to have a child. The image of ‘love set[the child] going like a fat gold watch,’ really made me think about the whole concept of pregnancy and having a child. Obviously, since I have never had a child, I do not have the idea or connection of what it is like to find out that one is pregnant, but this image allowed me to visualize something that was so abstract to me. It made me realize like everything in life, that bearing a child has a time limit as well, just like a small egg timer, the woman’s body counts down 9 months on it’s own without any secular help. This really made me realize the whole concept of what it would be like to conceive and one-day bear children.

  15. jessica joy (nelson) says:

    I really like the poem, “Those Winter Sundays.” It really makes me think about the sacrifices love, especially love within a family requires. I don’t really think you can really love someone without sacrificing yourself for their sake. (I guess that’s what Jesus said, isn’t it.)
    Anyway, some details that I noticed in particular:
    “Sundays TOO” – this implies that the father gets up early every morning, probalby for the same reason, and the point is… he never takes a break. He never sleeps in, even on the day of rest, because he needs to get up and get the fire going for the sake of his beloved family.
    “blueblack cold” – how early it is that he wakes – early enough for the sun to still be below the horizon, early enough that the air still feels like night air, rather than morning.
    If only these offices of love that this man, this father, fills were not so lonely. I think that he must have taken enough joy in knowing that his love was making his family comfortable. Else, why would he have continued? Or not taught his son the lonely offices of love by having the boy occasionally rise so early to start the fire…

  16. Trey Overholt says:

    I like Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” the most of the three. I think there is a strong feeling of reflection to this poem. The poem begins, pointing out that, Sunday’s too, the day of rest, his father would rise early, most likely before the other household inhabitants. The blueblack cold of an early winter morning greets him and his hard-working hands of labor ache, but still, he works to warm the house for his family. The most powerful thing about the first stanza though, is the last sentence:
    “No one ever thanked him.”
    This sentence got me thinking, for some reason, about Christ. I thought about sacrifices that He made and the pain he took for the humanity that he loves. I thought about how he was mourned for when crucified and made sacred for his actions of selflessness and teaching. I thought about how people love him for what he did.
    And then, I wondered about how Hayden’s character’s father made constant sacrifices. The father goes to a painful, laborious job to support his family. The father wakes up early to split the wood (among other tasks I would imagine) for a fire to warm the house. But the intriguing notion of Hayden’s character, and I would say many fathers around the world, is the possibility that he may never receive praise from his child(ren). His family may never appreciate or even realize the sacrifices that he is making for them. It is possible that the father was not a loving, gentle man in the sense that he would give big hugs or buy ice-cream cones for his child(ren), but maybe the father’s way of love is the sacrifices that he makes for his family. What is scary is the fact that, the father may not never be recognized for his actions. HIs family may resent him for one reason or another (it certainly seems as though the son did at a time citing the first line of the last stanza). He may never be recognized. He may never feel that sort of love that people offer(ed) Jesus. So I wonder if Hayden’s poem could even shed light on the possibility of equality among sacrifices between unappreciated fathers and Jesus. I am sorry of this is at all sac-religious. I promise, I love Jesus.
    All that being said, I think that the character of the poem is realizing in retrospect how much his father truly cared about him. Upon reflection, I feel as though the character is questioning his childhood thoughts towards his father. The line “what did I know, what did I know” implies (for me) that the character may have thought he had things figured out (as so many of us kids thought or still thing at some point) even though he was blind to the ACTIONS of love that his father was selflessly offering his child.
    I, like so many of you I am sure, have heard the phrase “Actions speak louder than words,” countless times; I think that Hayden took the idea of that cliche, and made it into a beautiful reflection of the deeper and often unappreciated levels of love.

  17. Joanna Hendrick says:

    A Mountain Spring has become one of my favorite poems that we have studied in class so far. Like Robert Frost’s “Stopping by a Woods on a Snowy Evening” is simplicity is what catches my attention. Both poems take a simple moment in time and expand it to show that a simple moment that many people may overlook has the power to evoke strong emotions. I love the way that this poem flows, the lines are full of enjambment which makes the lines trickle down from one the next, in that way, the form of the poem gives parallels the poem’s content of a small Mountain Spring.

    I also really enjoyed “Those Winter Sundays.” There are a couple of themes running through this poem. One is the theme of a broken and cold home which is evident in the line “fearing the angers of that house.” The other is of regret for under appreciating a parent’s hard and diligent work for the family. Both of these themes make this poem incredibly poignant and easy to identify with.

  18. Stephanie Leh says:

    I was surprised when I read Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Days” because I had thinking about writing a very similar poem about my mother later on in the semester. I like that the form of this poem is free in that the lines of each stanza are different in number and never rhyme. I like poetry that can simply be read like a story. Read out loud, one would hear this as a short narrative.
    I love the deep realization of gratitude that can be said in only 14 lines. This man comes to understand that despite the fact that his father may sometimes be harsh, he still does countless things out of love for his family: working daily in the cold, getting up early on Sundays to warm the house for his family, polishing shoes, and without a word of thanks. I can sometimes see this happen to my mom, who works so hard to take care of everyone in my family, and half the time we don’t even realize how hard she’s working.

  19. Tim Leidy says:

    I agree with what Liz said about “Those Winter Sundays.” I definitely have not appreciated my parents like I should. On weekends as a kid, I remember my father used to work in his garden all afternoon, which was no small task considering his garden was probably at least an acre in size. During the fall and winter months, he would saw down trees and cut them up for firewood. All this on top of his regular work, I remember how calloused my father’s hands always were. Reading the first stanza of Robert Hayden’s poem, his imagery brought me right back to my childhood.

    I love the line from the last stanza: “What did I know, what did I know/Of love’s austere and lonely offices?” I’m not sure what Hayden meant by that, but I got the feeling when I read it that the poet was referring to not fully comprehending the work that his father did for him. How true it is, now that I have become older, I am able to see just how much my dad cared for me when I was a child through the work that he did.

  20. Stevie Baum says:

    These winter Sundays reminds me about how much I appriecate my parents. My parents always make sure that the house is warm during the winter, and that the family has a nice meal on the table. The more I get farther into the Human Development and Family Science major, I realize that parenting is a full time job without pay. Children don’t realize how much parents do for them until they grow up and move out of the house or have children of their own. Once children have their own place to live, they start to realize how much work their parents have to do to take care of the family. I learned this lesson when I first starting living on campus, because I gained many more responsibilities. I had to be responsible for my school work, doing laundary, washing dishes, and keeping myself organize. This experience and this poem made me greatful for what my parents did for me when I was growing up.

  21. Christine Kotzmoyer says:

    In class this week we’ve been learning about the short lyric. We’ve said that it can be defined as being a brief poem which portrays a strong dominant emotion. I love how the poem “Morning Song” fits this description and portrays the dominant emotions of a new mother. The authors use of strong metaphors helps to deepen the perception of love at this new moment of life. I think that the poem exists under the umbrella of a single perception: a mother’s love for her infant. The image of the fat gold watch setting love in motion and the image of the tired mother getting up at the wee hours of the morning to calm her crying baby shows the deep commitment and connection that mothers have for their babies. When I first read this poem I have to say that lots of the metaphors went way over my head and I couldn’t comprehend what the author was talking about. But after reading it over carefully I think it is a literary masterpiece of imagery and fits the category of the short lyric to a T.

  22. Astin Melhorn says:

    Winter Sundays
    This poem seems to be discussing the way an author remembers their Sunday mornings as a child. I feel we are meant to believe that this child and his father live in a cabin like setting out in the middle of the woods where harsh winters exist. A memory that the author is very fond of is the sound of his father waking up on Sunday morning to cut fire for the wood stove. This is a rather warm feeling poem to me because I reminds me of the various hunting trips I have taken with my very own father to desolate cabins in the woods where we used wood stoves very similar to the one in this poem to keep warm.

    A Mountain Spring
    This poem describes a cold mountain stream to me. It seems like the stream has been flowing in the woods for a good many years and it located in a part of the world where not much human activity as occurred yet. The stream is clear and unchanged and represents nature in its purest form as perhaps God intended it.

    Morning Song
    I guess the author here is trying to describe how their morning goes. It appears that love is the first thing to pass through their mind. Than possibly the thought of others and then nature. I believe in the end the author is trying to describe possibly singing as they wake up. This poem is rather confusing to me.

  23. Marc Sperlich says:

    Concerning A Mountain Spring. Sometimes I think we read too much into a poem. We come up with theories that the author did not even intend. Now, obviously, poems give us room to interpret, but how far shall we take it? Where should we draw the line? What do you guys think?
    So when I look at this poem, I am only imagining the author finding this wonderful brook and seeing how magnificent it is. Now in the beginning, we read that no one knows its name. This is a line that affects the whole poem. It is as if the author is reflecting on this one line. I can just see him asking a passerby, “Do you know the name of this brook?” And the answer he gets does not satisfy his question. So the rest of the poem is as if the author were saying, “How could no one know the name of this beautiful brook?” Look how steady and unchanging it is and yet no one seems to notice it. This is what I read in this poem. And maybe there is more behind the author, but I think we must be careful not to add anything in the text that has a possibility of being false. We can think about it, but we should not attribute them to the poem.

  24. Caitlin McMahon says:

    I wanted to comment on “Those Winter Sundays” because I think the poet did an amazing job with it, capturing his images and emotions with exactly the right words to portray his thoughts. The first time I read this poem, I wasn’t sure exactly what the tone of the poem was or what the poet’s objective was. However, when reading through a second and third time, I could tell that the speaker was feeling regret for not realizing and appreciating the work that his father did when he was younger, as he was now understanding it. I think it is interesting to note the word use in the poem, how in the first parts, there are many hard consonants. There are many “k” sounds (blueblacked, cracked, thanked, ached, banked, breaking, etc.). This affects the tone of the beginning, giving the image of the father as a hard man, working laboriously to provide for his family. The second half of the poem does not have the same sounds, but instead has many “o” sounds and soft words (lonely, austere, know, shoes, love). This comes with the realization of the love that his father had for him. I think that this poem was a sort of confession, possibly with a sense of apology for his lack of appreciation. I also think that this could be the poet writing to increase the appreciation of other people to understand that people show love in different ways.

  25. Kristen Keiser says:

    As soon as reading a Morning Song the first word that came to mind was serenity. It relaxed me in instantly and gave me a sense of peace and clarity, and in that clarity I thought of God and his creation. It amazes me the beauty that is displayed on our earth and how unnoticed it is. I wonder how that makes God feel? I feel like this poem is an example of how much God loves us and how all his creation was made not just good, but very good. I can also relate with this poem in the sense that while being in high school, I was the only Christian out of my friends, and it was like me being able to see all God’s glory, and when I would try to witness to them, it was like they had no recognition of him. Like in the poem, “Nobody I ask knows its name.” As the years go by, God remains with me is the air, water, mountains, grass, but he goes unnoticed by all the others, because at that point of life, everything was going alright; therefore they didn’t need to mind it. If they could only see the beauty, peace, grace, and joy that I see everyday.

  26. Hannah Perry says:

    I love this poem. I’ve never had a child but from what I know and have heard from others this poem really seems to dig down deep and bring up fresh clean feelings. Genuine emotion. I read this poem and sense joy. During class people were talking about how the poem is depressing because Sylvia Plath was depressed but I don’t agree. She loves her new child. The instant she hears the baby’s voice she runs to comfort it. I also sense a feeling of being lost. This precious child has entered this world and although there is joy, everything is new. She might be scared how to act and how to treat her child when she states, “we stand round blankly as walls.” She knows this child is going to impact her whole life but everyone is excited, “our voices echo.”

    I love how she uses other ways to describe simple things:
    moth-breath flickers-the steady warm breath of an infant
    flat pink roses-the little girl decorations around her
    far sea moves-a soothing and calming noise of security, if you can hear the baby breathing you know she is safe
    cow-heavy and floral-breastfeeding and in a woman’s nightgown
    the clear vowels rise like balloons-the little noises and almost words a baby tries to make, that leave and never return as the baby quickly grows up

    Reading this poem makes me happy.

  27. Phil Hobbes says:

    I really really enjoyed “Morning Song” by Sylvia Plath. I love the way it portrays the relationship between the mother and the child, and the interdependency of the two. It reminds me a lot of the poem by EE Cummings, “Somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond”. The EE Cummings poem has lines that speak of being entirely selfless, the second stanza in particular. This reminds me of the lines in “Morning Song” where it talks about the speaker getting out of bed in the Middle of the night, and the baby crying and stuff. When all is said and done, I think that I like the poem because of the first line. “Love set you going like a fat gold watch”. First of all, I love the beginning of it because it talks about the child being born out of love, rather than the two people, the baby is a child of emotion. I thought that was cool, but then, as if it weren’t cool enough, the speaker then connects the child to a watch, and its conception to the act of winding said watch. It works on a series of levels. First off, the Child’s development can be easily viewed as a sort of clock, with a dial of nine months. Second, the complexity of most watches mirrors perfectly the complexity of the human body. My father recieved a watch from my mother for Christmas, it was a beautiful watch that he had been busily hinting at for months, and he finally recieved it on Christmas morning. The watchmaker had built in a cool feature, where you could open the backing of the watch and, through a small piece of glass, one can watch the tiny pieces move and lock together and seperate again. I couldn’t help but to relate this tiny watch to the human experience as a whole, and also to the intricacies of our existence. This tiny watch had hundreds of peices crammed into the tiny casing, just as there is an entire, complete, complex human adult crammed inside of that tiny baby just waiting to burst and grow and develop. Thats what I thought of.

  28. Nichole Netchaeff says:

    Robert Hayden’s, “Those Winter Sundays” was my favorite among the three that we read this week. In each line there were vivid words used to describe the way the father appeared as well as how he acted without any appreciation. He seemed stable and caring; this is obvious in the last stanza where the father warms the house and takes care of the child’s shoes, and he seems to do the same every Sunday. When first reading this poem I immediately thought of my father. He is the most hardworking man I know, and very much so like the father in this poem. I feel as though I never thanked him enough for all he did for me, rather I felt he knew he was appreciated. I feel as though we should take this poem out of context and use it in other ways that concern our lives. More than just our parents, anyone and everyone who cares and love us should be given respect and appreciation in return. In doing this, we won’t look back and regret past experiences and poor decision choices.

  29. Ben Beachy says:

    I really like the first poem, A Mountain Spring. When I first read through the poem at face value, I was filled with a sense of relaxation and reflection. It had a soothing nature about it that caused me to calm myself and put myself on the shore of tranquil stream flowing down the mountain. But after reading through it again, this short lyric seems to take the form of a metaphor. This metaphor is very similar to the one that Annie mentioned in class. To me this spring represents and individual that lays low amongst other people and is not well-known. However, if one looks close enough, you soon realize the true beauty of this individual that has lived a life with a sense of content passiveness. This individual is one that does all of the behind the scenes type work that people will often never notice. But to some, his helpful hand and soft reliability has made all the difference to others. Just as this spring may fade away back into the mountain, this individual may leave and go unnoticed to most people. And although he does not announce that he is leaving, those that saw the true passion of this soft-spoken individual understand that he is leaving and they will miss him.

  30. Marty Zimmerman says:

    “Those Winter Sundays,” written by Robert Hayden describes a speaker’s regret in not appreciating his father’s sacrifices earlier in life. The speaker realizes that during his childhood, his father “labored in the weekday weather,” and continued to work hard even on Sundays, which is considered as a day of rest to Christian believers. This poem reveals in part, the relationship shared between father and son. The father is viewed as a hard worker and provider for his child, while the speaker (as a child) relies upon his/her father for survival. It is not until the speaker has grown and refelcts upon his past that he is able to acknowledge his father’s actions, and how those actions influenced his current status.

    I can relate with this because it hasn’t been until the last few years that I truly began to appreciate the work of my father, and the sacrifices both of my parents made in order to provide me, and my two younger siblings, with a comfortable life. My father is in a unique line of work, he is a mortician, and it truly is a time consuming job. When I was I child I understood that dad could not be at all family meals, holidays, or special events because he had work to do. However, now that I’m older I realize that there is more to it than that. Dad worked in order to provide for the family and to ensure that I had a bright future to look forward to. I am sitting here at Messiah College in due part to my father and his hard work over the years. I truly appreciate his efforts in the past, and gladly respect him for who he is and what he has done. He did his best to be present at events, and has become more flexible over the last several years in regards to his schedule and ability to gain some free time. (This is in due part to someone with the necessary credentials to work in that field). I appreciate his efforts and hard work, and look forward to gaining new understanding and insight into who he is and what he has done for me.

  31. David Kent says:

    I want so badly to comment on Hayden’s piece, but I feel everything I could say has already been said. I suppose I will comment with more of a different twist.

    Sometimes I like to read poetry as though it were placed in different scenarios or contexts. This one, for instance, I read over and over, thinking about what to write, and I finally thought “What would this look like in a play.” It then struck me that this is a piece of the speaker’s mind that may be recounted to someone interviewing him for some random reason. He could be in therapy or maybe on the radio being interviewed for his biographical material. Anything like that. I don’t know, I’m just suggesting some new method of reading I suppose.

    I know I’m taking a risk by simply writing without bringing forth any analytical sustenance, but I feel it is important to take a step back from the poetry itself and determine not only the purpose of the poem, but the purpose of you reading the poem itself. If I sit and tell myself I have to read a piece of poetry because I must, I know I will recieve no benefit from it. When I read this poem for the first time, I know it was because page 990 was written in the syllabus. The second sitting, however, nourished my mind with such great images and sympathies and connections. My point is, if one sits down and realizes what they have to gain–everything–and what they have to lose–nothing–then poetry can be the thing that connects all of us. It can be the web flung into the depths, filament after filament.

    So now I blatantly compare what I just gabbed about with Those Winter Sundays. I have always had a vision in my mind whenever it comes to the 20s and 30s in America’s history. The hard working father home at 5:30, the dinner on the table at 6. (I quote my late father) “They were like the Cleavers,” And this is a piece that connects with that image, but is able to bend it to give me a more realistic and psychologically correct outlook. Sure the father works hard, but the solitude with knowing he is the provider for the family makes it even more difficult. The indifference shown by his son is only going to compound the solitude. And now that the speaker realizes what great sacrifice has been made, it may drive him to do the same. It is like the connection of the perfect American family everyone reads and hears about with the one everyone has experienced in the past. Basically I loved it. Enough of my free-rant. Fin.

  32. Stacey Claridge says:

    My favorite poem that we read in class was A Mountain Spring. When I read this poem, I could actually imagine this scene and that’s why I liked it so much. I could imagine myself in this place looking at this brook. The speaker in the poem is taken by this brook. It seems like a peaceful image. The poem doesn’t seem rushed. The speaker seems to be at peace standing by this brook. I love the fact that the stream flows so calmly “shining on the earth like a piece of the sky.” That is such a beautiful image. I think that it’s interesting that the brook has no name. I wonder why nobody knows the name of the brook. I love the part of the poem where it says “it falls away in waterfalls, with a sound like rain.” I can imagine what the sound of this brook would be. This poem is so peaceful and calm. The brook seems undisturbed and completely isolated in nature.

  33. John Haller says:

    For me, reading all three of these poems was excellent. I really found that i love this genre of writing within poetry itself. The lyric poem is very easy to read and it leaves the mind colored and full. What it nice about these poems is that you can read them once and be left feeling with the essence of the writing with out going into it deeply, the imagery is so strong in these poems that i think your mental sensory experience can grasp the worth of the poem before your logic can. You are left feeling what the poem was about without even really asking your self about the figurative aspect of it. Out of these three poems, the one that i was the biggest fan of was Sylvia Plath’s Morning Song. The emotions that run through this song could be noticed immediately while reading; it was one of those poems thats words all left your mind with a different shade and in the end you were left with a color that was unique to that one poem. At points in the poem you felt like the words where encasing emptiness, a lonely void, where at other times in the poem you felt the fullness of the moment, you felt the side of Sylvia that cared, the optimist within. Overall it was very nice reading these poems, one for there meter and tone, and for their ability to the mind with a good after taste.

  34. Ted Oberg says:

    The speaker in Robert Hayden’s sonnet could be Hayden or just a man looking back at his childhood. And he dramatizes an event that made him realize that he had not treated his father with as much love and respect that his father deserved. All of this seems to point to the fact that when the speaker was young he doubted his father’s love; as a child he assumed love was expressed in more physical and obvious ways. Yet, it is not until the speaker has grown a lot older that he realizes that love is often expressed nonverbally and indirectly. After realizing this he is then able to recognize it in the early morning gestures of his father. Though there is still sadness at the end of the poem, a lament or elegy for the opportunity to thank the father, or treat him better, there is also a feeling of resolution. It is as if reverence is being paid finally in the making of the poem. But instead of allowing himself to lurch in guilt, he questioned his attitude in perspective that he just did not know any better. If he had known better, he could have done better, by showing more love and gratefulness to his father. His mindset of recognizing self faults is a useful characteristic to everyone who has conflict with showing love and gratitude to not only your father, but to everyone who is in close relation with you.

  35. Marianna Santos says:

    Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” hit very close to home for me. The poem reminded me of my own father, who has worked hard his entire life to provide his family with the opportunities he never had. My father was born in raised in Brazil during a time in which the economy was experiencing some of its worse moments in history. After graduating from high school, he moved into the big city in hopes of making “something of himself”, but things were rough and no one could escape the harmful effects of Brazil’s corrupt government and slow economy. After marrying my mother, my father ventured to the U.S. in hopes of pursuing something here before bringing my mother and I over. He worked 22 hours a day, six days a week and did so for a very long time. To make a long story short, my father eventually ended up going back to school, obtained a degree and today owns his own company up in Massachusetts. He has accomplished his goals of providing his family with the best he can, yet many times I overlook all of his efforts. This poem served somewhat as a wake-up call for me, reminding me of everything my father went through out of love and compelling me to become at showing him how much I appreciate and love him.

  36. David Ben Avraham says:

    One might call this poem a lament. As nurses, we often talk about the power of reminiscence, particularly in older adults towards the end of their lives. It is a way to come to terms with past regrets, almost a kind of confessional. Here the poet writes a lament that most of us can identify with. We have what would be the father role—one who gets up while it is still cold, hands and knees calloused from hard work and back aching, but the papa does not notice these things. The thought that worries him is that his son or his wife might be cold when they rise. This same father figure would care tenderly to the small cut on his son’s hand, not noticing the much larger gash on his own hand.
    I imagine the poet as an older man, who in the matter of what would only seem like days, became his father. He arises one early Sunday morning to turn up the electric heater, when a sound outside his window (splintering wood) sends him back in time to a memory of his own father. Only then does he see the meaningfulness of his father’s act, only after arriving at the same place—unconditional love.

    Here is a wonderful little quote that I feel is befitting for this:

    “When I left home at the age of 18, I thought my father was the stupidest man on earth. When I returned home at the age of 21, I was amazed at how much my father had learned in those three short years.” –Mark Twain

  37. Jordan Swisher says:

    I thought our class’ analysis of “Those Winter Sundays” was very insightful. I liked our discussion of the poet’s diction when describing the cold as “blueblack” and “splintering” and “breaking.” These are such excellent descriptive words that bring clear images to mind of what the cold was like in his home. Also, I liked hearing classmates’ opinions on what the ending could mean. For myself, it doesn’t seem angry or resentful toward the speaker as much as it seems sadly self-reflective. As if he were saying to himself, “I wish I could change the past but I can’t. Alas.” Having more information about the poet’s biography and his parent’s frequent fights helps bring another level of understanding to lines like “fearing the chronic angers of that house.” This is a good example of a lyric poem because it is clearly coming from the point of view of an individual, perhaps the poet himself, and it is short and concise. It tells us about a feeling, more than a story.

  38. Derek Sipe says:

    Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden describes a father who loves his family very much but struggles to convey that love through words. However, his actions demonstrate his love more than any words could. I believe Hayden himself is writing this poem about his childhood and how his father sort of went unnoticed. In the last line of the first stanza Hayden even says “No one ever thanked him.” This is because the ways that his father showed his loved seemed like typical routine events that became expected by Robert and his family.

    One of the more confusing yet interesting lines of the poem is at the end of the second stanza, where it says “fearing the chronic angers of that house”. This backs up my idea that Hayden’s father was not the best at sharing his love verbally, and I suspect that Hayden’s parents may not have had the best relationship. This fighting among his parents is what I believe Hayden is talking about when he says the “chronic angers”.

    “What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?” These are the final two lines of the poem and they leave the reader feeling a sense of regret and even bitterness. I believe the overall tone of this poem is regretful and these final lines agree. As an adult Hayden finally realizes the love his father had for the family and all he had done for them, and feels bad because he never thanked him or noticed all the loving deeds his father had performed.

  39. Laura Harris says:

    Smooth and twisty were the first two words that I thought of when I read A Mountain Spring. Kenneth Rexroth’s imagery is astonishing. First he speaks about the brook in the mountains which no one knows its name. This little brook is completely unknown or unseen, yet it exists. Its “shines on the earth like on a piece of the sky” means its reflexive of the sky. It must be so smooth, and so clear that its like a malleable mirror. How beautiful! Then, in multiple waterfalls, it falls away, and splashes onto the landing below sounding like rain. It sounds majestically, almost like something one would hear in a zen garden or a place for solace and relaxation. I notice that he uses a plural form of the word waterfall, and think its remarkable how something unknown and unnourished by the world can multiply and its path can continue to grow. Its self-sufficient. It then twits between rocks. There’s so much erosion, and other impressions and dubre that brooks in nature pick up and deposit as it glides by the natural surroundings. WHen it makes a deep pool, it provides an environment for little creatures to swim and breed. It then divides into islands, and provides nourishment for the creatures of the land to dip their tongues into. It then begins to settle as its journey flattens, and the path becomes calms. He ends saying “It goes its way with no one to mind it.” All of these events, they leave an impact on their surroundings, yet no one is there to know. It just happens. There’s a contentment in Rexroth’s language, when the years go by, the depths never change. The stream never becomes shallow, but continue to flow into the same pools and grow. I’m a great admirer of nature.

  40. nick martin says:

    “Those Winter Sundays,” by Hayden was a wonderful poem to read out loud (although it did feel a little awkward reading to myself :) . Unfortunately, most of what I picked up on has already been said but maybe I’ll have a few different things to add to the table. I really enjoyed digging deeper into this poem. I know this is definitely a bit of a stretch but, as I read the poem, I pictured the house as the world and the son as humanity. I thought this was a great example of how God toils for us to shelter us and keep us warm. Even though he does all of these things, humanity still doesnt give Him the acknowledgment he deserves. The ending really sums it up for me when he says
    “Speaking indifferently to him,
    who had driven out the cold
    and polished my good shoes as well.”
    Also, when he discusses the chronic anger of the house, I possibly thought that could be the stuggle between good and evil. Mainly becuase God is constantly fighting for us. This poem also instilled a big sense of regret. I immediatly felt this after reading it becuase it makes me think of all of the times I have not given God the credit he deserves for starting the fire for me every morning.

  41. Travis Croft says:

    I really enjoy the poem A Mountain Spring. I have much time in the rocky mountains in my lifetime and I find this poem easy to relate to. The first sentence expressed the brook and how it looked like a piece. To me this has beautiful imagery. I can imagine being up in the mountains and seeing a small stream in the distance and having the sun relecting off of it. Being up in this remote region makes you believe that you are all alone and you are discovering something for the first time that others have not seen. This image is a very peaceful image where one would just sit back and take in all it is that God has made. I can imagine the poet writing this piece ontop of a mountain looking out into the vastness of the wilderness. This poem I believe has a metaphore that can relate to a shy individual. This shy individual may be shy on the outside. But he/she has alot to offer to everyone. Once you get to know this individual you can actually see the trueness and beauty of them. Similarily the stream within the poem can be glanced upon but if you do not take the time to observe the image it does not take as much significant worth

  42. Brad Mensch says:

    Morning Song is a poem you can read over and over and take from it a new modification each time. The first time I read this poem I was transported into a house feeling presence of an early morning. I took the title ‘Morning Song’ literally and this meant that I immediately thought of morning time in a log cabin. At first I could not relate to the poem because the title has nothing to do with a fat watch or a wife slapping a foot-sole. As I read on I got to the part where it talked about the window square and the night stars being dulled out. This part gave me hope that it still had to do with a warm morning in a cabin.
    It was after I realized that this poem had mostly nothing to do with an actual morning that I decided to research it and find out what other people had to say about it in order to obtain more direction. As I researched I found that many people relate this poem to a newborn baby and its mother. This information was very insightful to me and my understandings of this poem. It certainly brought about a new light in my views.
    Viewing the meaning of this poem as a newborn and its mother signifies much. Right from the beginning when it talks about love setting a fat gold watch shows that there is a relational aspect in which the main focus can rely on. The ‘fat gold watch’ portrays a very complicated and complex item that takes much time and effort in creating. A watch must be wound up in order to work and when a newborn is brought into the world it is like the watch that is wound up being given life in which to work from. To give the babe such life the mother first ‘slapped your foot-sole.’ Another way of saying this is that the mother is stimulating the baby in which it can cry and therefore get circulation. This is a very responsible way in order to start the baby off healthy.

  43. Eddie Poff says:

    Those Winter Sundays evokes a great deal of emotion within me. It makes me think first of my own dad but also of his dad, who died when I was 2, so I never really got to know him. My grandfather was an alcoholic and a smoker and to be honest really wasn’t much of a father. The unique thing about both him and my dad is that they are about the most empathetic and selfless people I have ever known. My grandfather (norris) would chop wood, or do construction, or mow grass, or weed gardens, etc for elderly people in his neighborhood without telling them or them asking him. A person who helps people without even the desire for their knowledge of it, to me, is the definition of selfless. It is the utter desire to help people without any concern for reward. The personal satisfaction was what kept him going. My dad is a much better person than his dad was, as a result. He is exactly the same as the father in the poem, willing to get up and do things for his family early in the morning. The part that makes me sad is that both the character in the poem and my dad rarely are thanked for their selfless actions.

  44. Bryant Vance says:

    “A Mountain Spring” by Ch’u Ch’uang was one of my favorite lyric poems out of the ones that i read. This poem had a particular flow to it, just as the stream, because the reader never had a sense to pause or interrupt this flow with monotonous rhymes. I also LOVED how this poem SO descriptive. It was LOADED with verbs, painting this action filled picture in my mind – it falls, twists, makes, divides, flows, goes, and never changes. But no one knows about it! As expressed in the second line, the the speaker does not know its name, nor does anyone ask for its name. The stream is anonymous. Now, looking back on discussion from class, I wanted to pull a lot out from this poem. A lot of people had really interesting things as to what the poem stood for, or how it relates to their lives. However, I have a new found respect with NOT conducting a deep reading of poems like this. We discussed how there is great power when the reader holds back on the impulse to “over think” the poem. Take it for what it is. I did just that, and found a completely new meaning. It is a poem of beauty and comfort. The writer is blessed to have stumbled upon this beautiful, unnoticed creation and feels compelled to compose what he sees, along with his emotions, through poetry. Thats it.

    Kudos to you Ch’u Ch’uang.

  45. Kyle Hey says:

    I enjoyed reading Those Winter Sundays a lot. I felt that I could relate to the positive aspects of the father portrayed in this poem. My own father works hard manually all week. In the winter he too gets up early to start our coal stove to bring heat to the house. Despite the cracked hand and the early morning the father in the poem still cared for his family. The father seems to get no reward or praise for his efforts but still continues to do the work to provide for his family. I really appreciate this depiction of fatherhood and responsibility. This poem also used a lot of imagery. I feel poet did a great job of wording this poem so that the images he constructed would come alive in my head. The “blueblack cold” and the “cold splintering” both give me visions of the cold and the heat piercing through it.

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