Hayden creates a sense of apprehension and fear that the boy felt toward his father and his homeIn the last stanza, the reader senses the deep regret the speaker now feels overhis treatment of his father. He recallsSpeaking indifferently to him,who had driven out the coldand polished my good shoes as well.What did I know, what did I knowof love’s austere and lonely offices? (10-14)The speaker acknowledges that as a child he was apathetic and cold toward his father in spite of all the latter’s hard work and devotion. This small image underscores the love the father must have had for the child.Hayden uses repetition for the question "What did I know?" in Line 13. In doing so, he allows the reader to acknowledge the terrible sense of sadness and regretthe speaker now feels. The poem’s final line completes the question: "what did I
know/of love’s austere and lonely offices?" The child was unable to know the difficulty and sacrifice of parental love. The word "offices" denotes a service done for another. It implies that the father’s life revolved around serving his son. It also signifies a religious rite or ceremony ("office"). This ties in with the religious elements of the poem in that the father was participating in the parental ritual of sacrificing one’s own happiness for that of one’s child.