Poem Sampler

Poems About Fathers

Fathers Day poems about all types of dads.

All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton
Father, this year’s jinx rides us apart
where you followed our mother to her cold slumber;


America by Tony Hoagland
Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison


Bewitched Playground by David Rivard
Each could picture probably
with great care his brother drawing


Beyond Harm by Sharon Olds
A week after my father died
suddenly I understood


The Brief Journey West by Howard Nemerov
By the dry road the fathers cough and spit,
This is their room. They are the ones who hung


Brock by Paul Muldoon
Small wonder
he’s not been sighted all winter;


Burning the Fields by Linda Bierds
In the windless late sunlight of August,
my father set fire to a globe of twine.


Carpentry by Carl Dennis
Carpenters whose wives have run off
Are sometimes discovered weeping on the job.


Child on the Marsh by Andrew Hudgins
I worked the river’s slick banks, grabbling
in mud holes underneath tree roots.


Childhood Ideogram by Larry Levis
lay my head sideways on the desk,
My fingers interlocked under my cheekbones,


Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams
If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen


Dressing My Daughters by Mark Jarman
One girl a full head taller
Than the other—into their Sunday dresses.


Epigrams: On my First Son by Ben Jonson
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.


Father by Edgar Albert Guest
My father knows the proper way
The nation should be run;


The Father of My Country by Diane Wakoski
All fathers in Western civilization must have
a military origin.


Fifteen by Leslie Monsour
The boys who fled my father's house in fear
Of what his wrath would cost them if he found


The Gift by Li-Young Lee
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.


Grandfather by Michael S. Harper
In 1915 my grandfather’s
neighbors surrounded his house


The Harp by Bruce Weigl
When he was my age and I was already a boy
my father made a machine in the garage.


Heart's Needle by W. D. Snodgrass
Child of my winter, born
When the new fallen soldiers froze


His Stillness by Sharon Olds
The doctor said to my father, “You asked me
to tell you when nothing more could be done.


The Hospital Window by James Dickey
I have just come down from my father.
Higher and higher he lies


I Am an Atheist Who Says His Prayers by Karl Shapiro
I am an atheist who says his prayers.

I am an anarchist, and a full professor at that. I take the loyalty oath.


In Dreams by Kim Addonizio
After eighteen years there’s no real grief left
for the man who was my father.


Lines to my Father by Countee Cullen
The many sow, but only the chosen reap;
Happy the wretched host if Day be brief,


The Lost Pilot by James Tate
Your face did not rot
like the others—the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him


Manufacturing by Alan Shapiro
Up in the billboard, over old South Station,
the Captain, all wide grin and ruddy cheek,


Men at My Father's Funeral by William Matthews
The ones his age who shook my hand
on their way out sent fear along


Messenger by Dave Smith
It was not kindness, but I was only buckle-high in the door.
I let him in because the knock had come, the rain


Moonshine by Yusef Komunyakaa
Drunken laughter escapes
Behind the fence woven


My Father's Wedding by Robert Bly
Today, lonely for my father, I saw
a log, or branch,


My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;


On the Beach at Night by Walt Whitman
On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,


On a View of Pasadena from the Hills by Yvor Winters
From the high terrace porch I watch the dawn.
No light appears, though dark has mostly gone,


Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest
Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,


Our Father by Irving Feldman
This stranger whose flesh we never ate,
who, rather, sat at table with us, eating,


Proust's Madeleine by Kenneth Rexroth
Somebody has given my
Baby daughter a box of
Old poker chips to play with.


Spree by Maxine Kumin
My father paces the upstairs hall
a large confined animal


This Can’t Be by Bruce Smith
the place of consequence, the station of his embrace.
Or else I’m not son enough to see


A Toast to the Men by Edgar Albert Guest
Here’s to the men! Since Adam’s time
They’ve always been the same;


Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,


Wine by David Wojahn
Midnight
and the pipes knock,


Youth by James Wright
Strange bird,
His song remains secret.

 

More Father's Day Poems from the Poetry Foundation archive.

Originally Published: May 12, 2006

COMMENTS (2)

On August 22, 2007 at 1:21pm Diane Alberts wrote:
I just discovered this site and will definitely bookmark it. What a find! However...

I'd sure like more balance as to international poetry and classical poetry - especially on themes. I teach World Literature by theme, but get lots of brain cramps when it comes to remembering poetry on a certain topic. This list is pretty heavy on modern day Americans. With more international poetry spread from cunneiform to present, this list would be a godsend to me.

On June 28, 2008 at 3:47pm Howard Sage wrote:
I'm looking for the title of a poem I read once--it's actually fairly well

known--in which a man is reflecting on how children--just by being children and

growing up--carry the seeds of the father's destruction/death. It's not

like Sylvia Plath's killing of daddy. It's

just a reflection on how giving birth to the next generation means this one will

pass but it's written by a man to/about his son. Does it sound at all familiar

to you? Does anyone remember this poem?

Thank you in advance.

Howard

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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