Poem Sampler

Poems about Children and Parenting

Poems on the joys of parenting babies, toddlers, and teenagers.

Poems about Children and Parenting

Whether you’re an ecstatic new mom or dad, a patient respondent to a child’s twenty questions, a hair-pulling parent of a teenager, or an empty nester, below you’ll find poems about the wonder, worry, and weirdness of parenting.

LULLABIES, SONGS, AND BLESSINGS
Poems to whisper beside cribs and sing from rocking chairs as you wish luck and love upon a new life.

Lullaby” by John Fuller 

Your life was ours, which is with you.
Go on your journey. We go too. 

Lullaby” by Amanda Jernigan  

                                            Born in a time
of darkness, you will learn the trick of making.   

 “Scallop Song” by Anne Waldman

To wonder at the sight of baby’s beauty

Ne let the monsters fray us with things that not be   

The Writer” by Richard Wilbur 

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:   
I wish her a lucky passage.

A Prayer for My Daughter” by William Butler Yeats 

May she become a flourishing hidden tree,   
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be
  

BIRTH AND NEWBORNS
These brand-new parents from many walks of life share in common an all-consuming devotion to their newborn children.

Song for Baby-O, Unborn” by Diane di Prima 

but I can show you
baby
enough to love
to break your heart
forever

Pity” by Camille T. Dungy

This is how you found yourself: thirty-three,   
nursing a son. Soon there was another.    

July 4, 1974” by June Jordan 

angry   
serious
and running through the darkness with his own   

becoming light

Only Child” by D. Nurkse

I cradled my newborn daughter
and felt the heartbeat   
pull me out of shock.

Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward” by Anne Sexton 

Yours is the only face I recognize.
Bone at my bone, you drink my answers in.   

 
BABIES AND TODDLERS
Infants begin to grow older, and parents reflect on the needs, questions, and paradoxes of their little ones.

Babies” by Alice Fulton 

born gorgeous with nerves, with brains
the pink of silver polish or
jellyfish wafting ornately
through the body below.

A Poet to His Baby Son” by James Weldon Johnson 

Take the advice of a father who knows:   
You cannot begin too young   
Not to be a poet. 

Clinical Thermometer Set with Moonstone” by Alice Notley 

I’m stricken deaf when I mention it my babies
cry they want everything quick!

I Leave Her Weeping” by Liz Rosenberg 

She is counting on me to lower the boom
that is her heavy body, and settle her down.

Heart’s Needle” by W.D. Snodgrass 

All those days we could keep
Your mind a landscape of new snow

YOUNG CHILDREN
These poems consider the large impact that everyday choices of parents can make on their small children.

Food” by Brenda Hillman 

So often, at our sunny kitchen table,
hearing the mantra of the refrigerator,
I’ve thought there was nothing I could do but feed you

My Daughter at the Gymnastics Party” by David Bottoms 

She looked down, then up, hanging in that balance   
of pride and fear

The Leaf Pile” by Alicia Ostriker 

mothers are very strong
he is too young to do anything about this   
will not remember he remembers it

Dead Butterfly” by Ellen Bass 

Was this the holding-her-breath girl she became there?   

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday” by Rachel Zucker

how we conflate historical time
with personal time, how on 9/11 I took my nine-month old son
to his first day of day care and the city exploded, went up
in smoke, and no one but me cares that he spent hours there

 

TEENAGERS AND ADULT CHILDREN
Kids grow up, fall in love, have their own children—and then come home again.

A Note on My Son’s Face” by Toi Derricote

I did not look in that mirror
and see the face that could save me
from my own darkness. 

How You Know” by Joe Mills 

               I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t

My Son the Man” by Sharon Olds 

                   I cannot imagine him
no longer a child, and I know I must get ready,
get over my fear of men now my son
is going to be one. 

Testament” by Carolyn M. Rodgers 

there is no such time
to tell you
that some pains ease away

Home Again, Home Again” by Marilyn Taylor

Reclaiming the bedrooms they had in their teens,
Clean towels, warm comforter, glass figurines.


SEE ALSO: more poems about parenthood.


ARTICLES AND BLOG POSTS
These poets explore how poetry can (and can’t) fit into a life devoted to raising children. 

What Can Poetry Do for Parents?” by Elliott Vanskike

If my kids ever needed to turn to poetry, I wanted to start laying down the circuitry. 

A Toast for the Fathers” by Annie Finch

Father’s day came and went, and I’ve been wanting to say something about my dad, and all my poetic fathers, after all the talk about mothers.

 “babies, parents, and poetry” by Jeffrey McDaniel

On some level, even though I am drained and have less time, I trust that the process of being a father, the unconditional love that comes with it, the whole new way of life rippling with responsibilities, will alter my essence in profound ways and will ultimately influence the work that grows out of me.

As If Nature Talked Back To Me” by Ange Mlinko 

Raising children requires an existential optimism that most poets whose names aren’t “Walt Whitman” haven’t had since the dawn of modernity. 

“The Real Life” by Rachel Zucker

This is a list of 30 things I’ve done since April 16th instead of blogging.

 

 
Originally Published: July 18, 2012

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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