ANALYSIS: Robert Hayden's tribute to his foster father demonstrates the effectiveness of understatement, brevity and artful imagery. Merged with respectful memories of the father figure is his realization of the ingratitude that commonly accompanies youth. He is ashamed ofhaving taken for granted the self-sacrificing duties routinely performed morning after morningby his hard-working and undemonstrative parent. Hayden’s shame and remorse are poignant inhis conducting rhetorical questions? The first “What did I know” (3.4) suggests a generalized lack of knowledge and understanding of the self-sacrifice of others – a deficiency made understandable though not excusable by Hayden’s childhood and inexperience. The “what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices” (3.4-3.5) conveys mature realization of duties one performs willingly and in isolation for loved ones. The selection of “offices” as the poem’s final word is luminous in its denotative and connotative expression of functions dutifully performed without expectation of appreciation or thanks.