Men’s Journey through Poetry

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blue black 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?

Can we melt into this poem and feel the blue black cold against our skin, hear the splintering, breaking? Is it the rhythm that breaks through our sedate consciousness and pricks our sleeping muse within, waking up our feelings, the dark one’s, the one’s we act out, the one’s that can take over our mood and make us dark and dangerous. We connect with memories of our father, we imagine our being woken by our own father in the early morning hours, careful, measuring his mood, mindful of the chronic angers in our own house.

Our task in life is sorting out the archetypal father from the literal and forgiving the literal father for his shortcomings. Without this forgiveness we can never forgive ourselves and we are lost forever in self-pity and victimhood.  Men’s poetry seems paradoxical, an oxymoron. Robert Bly teaches us that being a real man means connecting with our anima, our inner realm, our inner guide that resides in the woman’s quarters or is the key that lies under the mother’s pillow. It transforms our stance with the world from a rigid, unshakeable, rational deadness to one enlivened, passionate and relational.

The still young field of neurobiology posits the necessity of relationships in laying the foundation of new neuronal pathways that are necessary for growth in consciousness. A man who cannot connect with his inner realm is likely to be beset by neuroses and depression particularly at midlife when the prospect of death is intuited even if in the distant future. It is our Faustian journey.

Robert Hayden’s search for his father, for his own forgiveness begins with feeling the remorse, the lost opportunity, the love never expressed…

What did I know, what did I know
Of love’s austere and lonely offices?

That question lingers in our consciousness. We let it settle into our gut and above all we allow ourselves to grieve. Maybe for the first time.

Dan and David look forward to seeing you at our workshop. You are invited to bring a couple of you favorite poems or poems you have written yourself and we will immerse ourselves in our personal and collective journeys through poetry.

Men's JourneysMen, Poetry, and Active Imagination: An Experiential Workshop
Daniel Ross, RN & David Koenig, PhD
Saturday November 12, 10-4 pm
$75 pre, $90 day-of, CEUs: 5