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Essay on “A Song in the Front Yard” and “Those Winter Sundays.”


Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “A Song in the Front Yard” and Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays” discuss regret. The stories are different, but they are connected. One account is about a child who wants something very much, and the other story is about a grown-up who thinks about things that happened in the past. Both poems talk about how parents and children have complicated relationships. The girl’s mother in “Song” and the boy’s father in “Sundays” have similar qualities that make the speakers feel sorry for them.

Childhood Regret in “A Song in the Front Yard”

In the poem “A Song in the Front Yard,” the child’s voice shows that they feel unfortunate because they cannot explore and be independent like they want to(Brooks). The girl wants to go to the backyard instead of staying in the front yard. Her desire shows that she is rebelling against the rules of society that keep her stuck in the well-kept front yard. The mysterious backyard is a place where fun and thrilling adventures await. It goes against the rules that tell the girl how to behave and make choices. She feels sorry because she is rebellious and cannot do things she wants to do because of society’s rules. The girl’s mother is the main reason for this regret. She does not like her daughter and likes to think about what will happen to her in the future. The child is sad because her mother is mean, making it hard for her to be herself. The girl feels she cannot be independent because her mother looks disapprovingly at her. She might do what others want instead of discovering her true self. She is sorry because she did not check out the backyard and is scared of going along the path her mother wants for her. This path limits her sense of adventure and potential for personal growth, which the neglected backyard represents. The child in “A Song in the Front Yard” feels regretful because they want to explore and be independent, but their mother disapproves. The regret is not only about the physical limits of the front yard but also about how it can stop people from being themselves and exploring new experiences in life that are so close yet still out of reach.

Adult Reflection on “Those Winter Sundays”

“Those Winter Sundays” explores the regret that adults can experience when they think about their distant and unemotional relationship with their father, who worked hard. The poem shows how the adult speaker feels sorry for not expressing gratitude when they had the chance. The sad way the father worked hard is shown in the lines “On Sundays, my father woke up early / and dressed in the freezing cold,” which emphasizes the unnoticed kind things he did when the speaker was young (Hayden). The cold, dark setting represents the emotional distance between the father and child, showing that their interactions are not warm.

The speaker in “Those Winter Sundays” feels sorry because they now understand that someone did things for them without saying anything. The grown-up storyteller understands how hard the father worked. His hands were cracked and sore from working outside in the weather during the week, but he still managed to make fires burn brightly. Parents show their love and dedication by giving up their physical comfort to ensure their family stays warm. Nevertheless, the grown-up realizes and admits these sacrifices too late, making the poem even more regretful. The idea of not showing gratitude is repeated throughout the story, reminding us of the times when we could have connected and understood each other better in the past.

The father in “Those Winter Sundays” feels the same as the mother in “Song.” They both feel like people do not understand or appreciate them. The young narrator overlooks the father’s hard work to support the family. This connection to “Song” makes the exploration of parental sacrifices and the resulting regret even deeper when these sacrifices are not recognized. Both poems have a common theme of not being valued or understood. This theme shows how family relationships can be complicated and how parents’ sacrifices can affect their children emotionally as they grow up.

Shared Traits: Authoritarian Parental Figures

After looking at “A Song in the Front Yard” and “Those Winter Sundays,” we can see that the girl’s mother and the boy’s father both show authoritarian traits. Even though the poems have different settings and situations, both parents represent authority. They impose their expectations on their children, trying to shape their futures to fit societal norms. The speakers feel sorry because they have to deal with their parents’ high expectations. This makes it hard for them to achieve what they want and reach their full potential.

In “A Song in the Front Yard,” the girl’s mom is shown as someone who has power and does not approve of her daughter’s choices. She also puts pressure on her daughter to meet society’s expectations. The mother’s mean disapproval and the scary prediction that the girl will become a “bad woman” show she strongly believes in following traditional rules. The way people talk to her, and their unfair assumptions not only limit her now but also make her worry about losing her true self in the future, which makes her feel sad. The mother’s strictness makes the girl rebel and want to be independent, which makes her an essential character in the story about feeling sorry.

In the same way, “Those Winter Sundays” shows the father as someone in charge who does things because he feels it is his duty and responsibility. The grown-up person thinks about how the father always wakes up early on Sundays to tend to the fires. It is a tough job that the child does not notice or appreciate. The father shows his authority by ensuring the family feels warm and comfortable. He puts their needs before his own. The speaker feels sorry because they do not understand how much their father sacrificed for them. They also realize their attitude was not caring and did not appreciate their father enough. The father’s essential role is shown clearly, and it helps to highlight the theme of not saying thank you and feeling sorry.

Both poems have something in common – they both talk about authoritarianism. This similarity connects the stories of regret that the speakers go through. The parents of the girl and the boy significantly impact their lives. They create a suffocating atmosphere and prevent them from reaching their full potential. Regret comes from not taking chances and feeling torn between what we want and what our parents want. Studying these strict parents helps us understand guilt better in the poems. It shows us how complicated parent-child relationships can be and how the influence of strict authority can affect the speakers’ emotions for a long time.


In conclusion, the examination of regret in “A Song in the Front Yard” and “Those Winter Sundays” shows a complicated relationship between the wishes of young people and the thoughts of grown-ups. The main similarity is the parents of the girl and the boy. They both have authority and unfulfilled expectations. This makes the speaker feel regretful. These poems remind us how parents can shape our childhood memories and adult thoughts.

Works Cited

Brooks, Gwendolyn. “A Song in the Front Yard.”

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.”


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