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To Be of Use & Those Winter Sundays Essay

Marge Piercy and Robert Hayden have clearly established messages in their poems which are socially awakening. Piercy’s To Be of Use tells the narrator’s feelings towards people who perform their jobs enthusiastically. In Hayden’s Those Winter Sundays shows the concealed appreciation of a son for his father’s acts of love. These two poetries envelop themes which equate the emotions of the authors towards their subjects. To better figure out the comparison between these two poetries, let’s analyse the details first of each poem.

If one would read To Be of Use the first time, it is quite evident how the author reiterates her feelings towards the people mentioned in the poem. She appreciates the people who works hard not for the money but because it is in their nature to do their best in their jobs. She likes those people who are enthusiastic and contented with their work. On the first stanza up to the third, she made use of similar verses to introduce each idea per stanza. The first line of the first stanza begins as, “The people I love the best. . .” while the second stanza says, “I love people who harness themselves. . .”. The third stanza starts with, “I want to be with people who submerge. . .” (Piercy 13).

It is evident that all throughout the poem; Piercy wants to relay her appreciation towards hard-working people.  With the use of reiteration, she is able to convey the message to the readers effectively.

Moving on, let’s find out how Piercy’s emphasis on her thoughts compares to Hayden’s way of narrating his. In contrast to Piercy’s direct declaration of her appreciation, Hayden implicitly expressed his in Those Winter Sundays. Instead of straightforwardly stating his position, he gave a poignant description of his father’s silent expression of love.

Sundays too many 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 (Hayden 261).

In the first stanza of the poem above, it can be noticed how detailed Hayden’s description was. He illustrated his father by means of mentioning the physical condition of his father. He could have described it in a clearer way by going straight to the point.  Nevertheless, he expressed his father’s poor countenance in a way that the reader can visualize the father’s hands cracked hands and the busy Sundays.

The poem further showed how heartbreaking the father’s situation must be by writing the last verse of the first stanza with, “No one ever thanked him” (Hayden 261)

With the last line, it is reasonable to consider that the author is one of those people who failed to thank him. This type of indirect meanings is somewhat present on the 2nd and last stanza of the poem.

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 (Hayden 261),

This is the second stanza of the poem. This is quite parallel to the first stanza where he described the actions of his father but later on the last line, he shows the unappreciative side. This parallelism is also clear in the last stanza whereas Hayden finally reveals his ignorance in regard to expressing one’s love to a person,

Those Winter Sundays is definitely much shorter than To Be of Use. However, both poems manifests parallelism which helps to the consistency of the message being conveyed. Piercy’s poem also describes the subjects by also arousing the emotions of the reader. One can also easily comprehend the idea behind the poem because it always begin with a direct quotation from the author that she loves such people.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls (Piercy 13).

The last three line soft h e1st stanza provides the readers with details about how the subject behaves towards work. The metaphors and other figurative language are also present in the descriptions. The first paragraph actually compared enthusiastic workers to seals which are literally happy and loud in nature. She also compared these “people” to water buffalos which has extreme patience to carry the burden of the work.

By analysing the two poems thoroughly, one can conclude that the themes are actually related. They both speak of social and moral issues which are current in the society. Discrimination and stereotypical beliefs contribute to these issues greatly. Nowadays, people tend to forget how to appreciate others’ sacrifices and sufferings because most of them are too busy with their own personal growth.  Most people disregard the fact that if we just open our eyes to these people in the poems, they are no different from us. The poems just revolve around one main idea—disregarded works. They go unnoticed and without complaints. No matter how invisible their good intentions seem; still they work hard for the sake of loving it.


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