Robert Earl Hayden (August 4, 1913 – February 25, 1980), born Asa Bundy Sheffey, was an American poet, essayist, and educator. From 1976 to 1978, Hayden was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position which in 1985 became the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
- 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.
- Those Winter Sundays (lines 1-5), from Collected Poems (1985)
- What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
- Those Winter Sundays (lines 13-14)
- Standing to America, bringing home
black gold, black ivory, black seed.
- Middle Passage (lines 15-16), from Collected Poems (1985)
- This man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered.
- Frederick Douglass (lines 7-11), from Collected Poems (1985)
- Oh who and oh who will sing Jesus down
to help with struggling and doing without and being colored
all through blue Monday?
Till way next Sunday?
- Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday (lines 10-13), from Collected Poems (1985)
Quotes about Robert Hayden
- right now I’m re-reading and re-reading Robert Hayden’s poems, which are absolutely beautiful and brilliant.
- When I read Jefferson's disparagement of Wheatley, it felt like he had been disparaging the entire lineage of Black poets who would follow her, myself included, and I saw a man who had not had a clear understanding of what love is. When Robert Hayden gave us the ballads to remember how captured Africans survived the Middle Passage and arrived on these shores, it was an act of love...
- Clint Smith (writer), How the Word is Passed (2021)
- Overview of Robert Hayden's life and poetry from XJ Kennedy and Dana Gioia's Introduction to Poetry
- Those Winter Sundays hermeneusis by ex-Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky
- Academy of American Poets listing
- Robert Hayden: His Day Is Now! A Defense Of Hayden's Verse
- Review of The Collected Poems of Robert Hayden
- About Hayden's Life And Career
- Online Selection of Poems
- Audio of Hayden's poem Soledad
- "On 'Middle Passage"": excerpts of essays analyzing Haydon's deeply ironic "anti-epic"