Study Guide

The Whipping Calling Card

By Robert Hayden

Calling Card

Pain and Suffering

It seems like every poem we've come across talks about pain, suffering, trauma, and a whole lot of other unpleasant stuff. "The Whipping," as we've seen, is full of violence, tears, and painful memories. In another famous poem called "Frederick Douglas" (about the famous activist), Hayden talks about Douglass as "beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world / where none is lonely," while in "Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday" he describes a woman's suicide. In what might be his most well-known piece, "Those Winter Sundays", Hayden alludes to scary, and painful childhood memories much like he does in "The Whipping": "slowly I would rise and dress, / Fearing the chronic angers of that house." Pain, suffering, trauma—this stuff is all over Hayden's poetry, and with good reason. Check out "In a Nutshell" to see why.

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