Poetry - Family and Friends
Ben Jonson (c.1572-1637), On My First Son (1616)
A poem dedicated to Johnson's (pictured right) dead 7-year-old son whom he called “his best piece of
The first two lines are:
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Sonnet
Shakespeare (pictured right) shows the value of a good friend:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
Philip Larkin (1922-85), This Be The
The English poet (pictured right) criticizes his parents:
They f-ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
Stephen Spender (1909-95), To My Daughter
The English poet (pictured right) cherishes memories of when your child was small enough to put a hand around
Bright clasp of her whole hand around my finger,
My daughter, as we walk together now.
All my life I’ll feel a ring invisibly
Circle this bone with shining: when she is grown
Far from today as her eyes are far already.
Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-72), Walking Away (1962)
Written for his son, Sean, the English poet (pictured right) describes the importance of letting children live
their own lives:
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
(last two lines)
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931),
The Prophet (1923)
The Lebanese-born American poet (pictured right) also believes that children
must eventually be independent:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.