Only a dad with a tired face, Coming home from the daily race, Bringing little of gold or fame To show how well he has played the game; But glad in his heart that his own rejoice To see him come and to hear his voice. Only a dad with a brood of four, One of ten million men or more Plodding along in the daily strife, Bearing the whips and the scorns of life, With never a whimper of pain or hate, For the sake of those who at home await. Only a dad, neither rich nor proud, Merely one of the surging crowd Toiling, striving from day to day, Facing whatever may come his way, Silent whenever the harsh condemn, And bearing it all for the love of them. Only a dad but he gives his all To smooth the way for his children small, Doing with courage stern and grim, The deeds that his father did for him. This is the line that for him I pen: Only a dad, but the best of men.
This poem is in the public domain.
Sundays 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?
Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden, from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.