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Best Famous Family Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Family poems. This is a select list of the best famous Family poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Family poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of family poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Anna Akhmatova | |

Lots Wife

Holy Lot  was a-going behind  God's angel,
He seemed  huge and bright on a hill, huge and black.
But the heart of his wife whispered stronger and stranger: "It's not very late, you have time to look back At these rose turrets of your native Sodom, The square where you sang, and the yard where you span, The windows looking from your cozy home Where you bore children for your dear man.
" She looked -- and her eyes were instantly bound By pain -- they couldn't see any more at all: Her fleet feet grew into the stony ground, Her body turned into a pillar of salt.
Who'll mourn her as one of Lot's family members? Doesn't she seem the smallest of losses to us? But deep in my heart I will always remember One who gave her life up for one single glance.


by Thomas Stearns Eliot (T S) Eliot | |

Mr. Mistoffelees

 You ought to know Mr.
Mistoffelees! The Original Conjuring Cat-- (There can be no doubt about that).
Please listen to me and don't scoff.
All his Inventions are off his own bat.
There's no such Cat in the metropolis; He holds all the patent monopolies For performing suprising illusions And creating eccentric confusions.
At prestidigitation And at legerdemain He'll defy examination And deceive you again.
The greatest magicians have something to learn From Mr.
Mistoffelees' Conjuring Turn.
Presto! Away we go! And we all say: OH! Well I never! Was there ever A Cat so clever As Magical Mr.
Mistoffelees! He is quiet and small, he is black From his ears to the tip of his tail; He can creep through the tiniest crack, He can walk on the narrowest rail.
He can pick any card from a pack, He is equally cunning with dice; He is always deceiving you into believing That he's only hunting for mice.
He can play any trick with a cork Or a spoon and a bit of fish-paste; If you look for a knife or a fork And you think it is merely misplaced-- You have seen it one moment, and then it is gawn! But you'll find it next week lying out on the lawn.
And we all say: OH! Well I never! Was there ever A Cat so clever As Magical Mr.
Mistoffelees! His manner is vague and aloof, You would think there was nobody shyer-- But his voice has been heard on the roof When he was curled up by the fire.
And he's sometimes been heard by the fire When he was about on the roof-- (At least we all heard that somebody purred) Which is incontestable proof Of his singular magical powers: And I have known the family to call Him in from the garden for hours, While he was asleep in the hall.
And not long ago this phenomenal Cat Produced seven kittens right out of a hat! And we all said: OH! Well I never! Did you ever Know a Cat so clever As Magical Mr.
Mistoffelees!


by Thomas Stearns Eliot (T S) Eliot | |

The Naming Of Cats

 The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily, Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey-- All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter, Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames: Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter-- But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, A name that's peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride? Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum- Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover-- But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


More great poems below...

by Chris Abani | |

Blue

Africans in the hold fold themselves
to make room for hope.
In the afternoon’s ferocity, tar, grouting the planks like the glue of family, melts to the run of a child’s licorice stick.
Wet decks crack, testing the wood’s mettle.
Distilled from evaporating brine, salt dusts the floor, tickling with the measure into time and the thirst trapped below.
II The captain’s new cargo of Igbos disturbs him.
They stand, computing the swim back to land.
Haitians still say: Igbo pend’c or’ a ya! But we do not hang ourselves in cowardice.
III Sold six times on the journey to the coast, once for a gun, then cloth, then iron manilas, her pride was masticated like husks of chewing sticks, spat from morning-rank mouths.
Breaking loose, edge of handcuffs held high like the blade of a vengeful axe, she runs across the salt scratch of deck, pain deeper than the blue inside a flame.
IV The sound, like the break of bone could have been the Captain’s skull or the musket shot dropping her over the side, her chains wrapped around his neck in dance.


by Erin Belieu | |

From On Being Fired Again

 I've known the pleasures of being
fired at least eleven times—

most notably by Larry who found my snood
unsuitable, another time by Jack,
whom I was sleeping with.
Poor attitude, tardiness, a contagious lack of team spirit; I have been unmotivated squirting perfume onto little cards, while stocking salad bars, when stripping covers from romance novels, their heroines slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love— and always the same hard candy of shame dissolving in my throat; handing in my apron, returning the cash- register key.
And yet, how fine it feels, the perversity of freedom which never signs a rent check or explains anything to one's family.
.
.


by W S Merwin | |

A Family

Would you believe me
if I told you the name of the farmers
at the end of the lake
where it grew shallow over the mossy rocks
and if you came in the morning the grass was blue
the fur of the rocks was wet the small frogs jumped
and the lake was silent behind you
except for echoes

you tied your boat carefully to a tree
before setting out across the cool pasture
watching for the bull
all the way to the barn

or if you came in the afternoon
the pasture glared and hummed the dark leaves smelled
from beside the water and the barn was drunk
by the time you got to it

to climb on the beams
to dive into the distant hay
will you believe
the names of the farmers' children


by Robert Penn Warren | |

True Love

 In silence the heart raves.
It utters words Meaningless, that never had A meaning.
I was ten, skinny, red-headed, Freckled.
In a big black Buick, Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat In front of the drugstore, sipping something Through a straw.
There is nothing like Beauty.
It stops your heart.
It Thickens your blood.
It stops your breath.
It Makes you feel dirty.
You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.
How could I exist in the same world with that brightness? Two years later she smiled at me.
She Named my name.
I thought I would wake up dead.
Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee Swagger of horsemen.
They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop.
Did no work.
Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.
He never came down.
They brought everything up to him.
I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.
When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him.
I saw the wedding.
There were Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable.
I thought I would cry.
I lay in bed that night And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.
The mortgage was foreclosed.
That last word was whispered.
She never came back.
The family Sort of drifted off.
Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.
But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives In a beautiful house, far away.
She called my name once.
I didn't even know she knew it.


by Julie Hill Alger | |

Death in the Family

 They call it stroke.
Two we loved were stunned by that same blow of cudgel or axe to the brow.
Lost on the earth they left our circle broken.
One spent five months falling from our grasp mute, her grace, wit, beauty erased.
Her green eyes gazed at us as if asking, as if aware, as if hers.
One night she slipped away; machinery of mercy brought her back to die more slowly.
At long last she escaped.
Our collie dog fared better.
A lesser creature, she had to spend only one day drifting and reeling, her brown eyes beseeching.
Then she was tenderly lifted, laid on a table, praised, petted and set free.
-Julie Alger


by Imamu Amiri Baraka | |

Ka Ba

 A closed window looks down
on a dirty courtyard, and black people
call across or scream or walk across
defying physics in the stream of their will

Our world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone's
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air

We are beautiful people
with african imaginations
full of masks and dances and swelling chants

with african eyes, and noses, and arms, 
though we sprawl in grey chains in a place
full of winters, when what we want is sun.
We have been captured, brothers.
And we labor to make our getaway, into the ancient image, into a new correspondence with ourselves and our black family.
We read magic now we need the spells, to rise up return, destroy, and create.
What will be the sacred words?


by Louisa May Alcott | |

From The Short Story Shadow-Children

 Little shadows, little shadows 
Dancing on the chamber wall, 
While I sit beside the hearthstone 
Where the red flames rise and fall.
Caps and nightgowns, caps and nightgowns, My three antic shadows wear; And no sound they make in playing, For the six small feet are bare.
Dancing gayly, dancing gayly, To and fro all together, Like a family of daisies Blown about in windy weather; Nimble fairies, nimble fairies, Playing pranks in the warm glow, While I sing the nursery ditties Childish phantoms love and know.
Now what happens, now what happens? One small shadow's tumbled down: I can see it on the carpet Softly rubbing its hurt crown.
No one whimpers, no one whimpers; A brave-hearted sprite is this: See! the others offer comfort In a silent, shadowy kiss.
Hush! they're creeping; hush! they're creeping, Up about my rocking-chair: I can feel their loving fingers Clasp my neck and touch my hair.
Little shadows, little shadows, Take me captive, hold me tight, As they climb and cling and whisper, "Mother dear, good night! good night!"


by Louisa May Alcott | |

The Rose Family - Song 1

 O flower at my window 
Why blossom you so fair, 
With your green and purple cup 
Upturned to sun and air? 
'I bloom, blithesome Bessie, 
To cheer your childish heart; 
The world is full of labor, 
And this shall be my part.
' Whirl, busy wheel, faster, Spin, little thread, spin; The sun shines fair without, And we are gay within.
O robin in the tree-top, With sunshine on your breast, Why brood you so patiently Above your hidden nest? 'I brood, blithesome Bessie, And sing my humble song, That the world may have more music From my little ones erelong.
' Whirl, busy wheel, faster, Spin, little thread, spin; The sun shines fair without, And we are gay within.
O balmy wind of summer, O silver-singing brook, Why rustle through the branches? Why shimmer in your nook? 'I flutter, blithesome Bessie, Like a blessing far and wide; I scatter bloom and verdue Where'er my footsteps glide.
' Whirl, busy wheel, faster, Spin, little thread, spin; The sun shines fair without, And we are gay within.
O brook and breeze and blossom, And robin on the tree, You make a joy of duty, A pride of industry; Teach me to work as blithely, With a willing hand and heart: The world is full of labor, And I must do my part.
Whirl, busy wheel, faster, Spin, little thread, spin; The sun shines fair without, And we are gay within.


by Louisa May Alcott | |

The Rose Family - Song II

 O lesson well and wisely taught 
Stay with me to the last, 
That all my life may better be 
For the trial that is past.
O vanity, mislead no more! Sleep, like passions, long! Wake, happy heart, and dance again To the music of my song! O summer days, flit fast away, And bring the blithesome hour When we three wanderers shall meet Safe in our household flower! O dear mamma, lament no more! Smile on us as we come, Your grief has been our punishment, Your love has led us home.


by Edgar Albert Guest | |

Thanksgiving

 Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice, 
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door And under the old roof we gather once more Just as we did when the youngsters were small; Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again Tellin' our stories as women an' men.
Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer; Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west, Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank, Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.
Give me the end of the year an' its fun When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done; Bring all the wanderers home to the nest, Let me sit down with the ones I love best, Hear the old voices still ringin' with song, See the old faces unblemished by wrong, See the old table with all of its chairs An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.


by Philip Larkin | |

Wants

 Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
However the sky grows dark with invitation-cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flag-staff -
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.
Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs: Despite the artful tensions of the calendar, The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites, The costly aversion of the eyes away from death - Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs.


by Philip Larkin | |

I Remember I Remember

 Coming up England by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
'Why, Coventry!' I exclaimed.
'I was born here.
' I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign That this was still the town that had been 'mine' So long, but found I wasn't even clear Which side was which.
From where those cycle-crates Were standing, had we annually departed For all those family hols? .
.
.
A whistle went: Things moved.
I sat back, staring at my boots.
'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' No, only where my childhood was unspent, I wanted to retort, just where I started: By now I've got the whole place clearly charted.
Our garden, first: where I did not invent Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits, And wasn't spoken to by an old hat.
And here we have that splendid family I never ran to when I got depressed, The boys all biceps and the girls all chest, Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be 'Really myself'.
I'll show you, come to that, The bracken where I never trembling sat, Determined to go through with it; where she Lay back, and 'all became a burning mist'.
And, in those offices, my doggerel Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read By a distinguished cousin of the mayor, Who didn't call and tell my father There Before us, had we the gift to see ahead - 'You look as though you wished the place in Hell,' My friend said, 'judging from your face.
' 'Oh well, I suppose it's not the place's fault,' I said.
'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.
'


by Katherine Mansfield | |

Covering Wings

Love! Love! Your tenderness, Your beautiful, watchful ways Grasp me, fold me, cover me; I lie in a kind of daze, Neither asleep nor yet awake, Neither a bud nor flower.
Brings to-morrow Joy or sorrow, The black or the golden hour? Love! Love! You pity me so! Chide me, scold me--cry, "Submit--submit! You must not fight!" What may I do, then? Die? But, oh my horror of quiet beds! How can I longer stay! "One to be ready, Two to be steady, Three to be off and away!" Darling heart--your gravity! Your sorrowful, mournful gaze-- "Two bleached roads lie under the moon, At the parting of the ways.
" But the tiny, tree-thatched, narrow lane, Isn't it yours and mine? The blue-bells ring Hey, ding-a-ding, ding! And buds are thick on the vine.
Love! Love! Grief of my heart! As a tree droops over a stream You hush me, lull me, dark me, The shadow hiding the gleam.
Your drooping and tragical boughs of grace Are heavy as though with rain.
Run! Run! Into the sun! Let us be children again.


by Katherine Mansfield | |

The Family

 Hinemoa, Tui, Maina,
All of them were born together;
They are quite an extra special
Set of babies--wax and leather.
Every day they took an airing; Mummy made them each a bonnet; Two were cherry, one was yellow With a bow of ribbon on it.
Really, sometimes we would slap them, For if ever we were talking, They would giggle and be silly, Saying, "Mamma, take us walking.
" But we never really loved them Till one day we left them lying In the garden--through a hail-storm, And we heard the poor dears crying.
Half-Past-Six said--"You're a mother! What if Mummy did forget you?" So I said, "Well, you're their Father.
Get them!" but I wouldn't let you.


by Ezra Pound | |

Further Instructions

 Come, my songs, let us express our baser passions.
Let us express our envy for the man with a steady job and no worry about the future.
You are very idle, my songs, I fear you will come to a bad end.
You stand about the streets, You loiter at the corners and bus-stops, You do next to nothing at all.
You do not even express our inner nobilitys, You will come to a very bad end.
And I? I have gone half-cracked.
I have talked to you so much that I almost see you about me, Insolent little beasts! Shameless! Devoid of clothing! But you, newest song of the lot, You are not old enough to have done much mischief.
I will get you a green coat out of China With dragons worked upon it.
I will get you the scarlet silk trousers From the statue of the infant Christ at Santa Maria Novella; Lest they say we are lacking in taste, Or that there is no caste in this family.


by Alexander Pushkin | |

To Gnedich

 With Homer you conversed alone for days and nights,
Our waiting hours were passing slowly,
And shining you came down from the mysterious heights
And brought to us your tablets holy -
So? in the wilderness, beneath a tent, you found
Us, feasting mad in empty gaiety,
Singing our savage songs and galloping around
Some newly hand-created deity.
We grew confused, aloof from your good rays hid we.
Then, seized of wrath and desolation, Have you, O prophet, cursed your mindless family And smashed your tablets in frustration? No, you have cursed us not.
From heights you disappear Into the shade of little valleys; You love the heavens' crash, but also wish to hear Bees humming over red azaleas.
Such is the honest bard.
With passion he laments At solemn fairs of Melpomena - To smile upon the crowd's plebeian merriments, The liberties of coarse arena.
Now Rome is calling him, now majesties of Troy, Now elder Ossian's craggy gravels - And in the meantime he will hear with childish joy Of Czar Sultan's heroic travels.


by Craig Raine | |

In Modern Dress

 A pair of blackbirds
warring in the roses,
one or two poppies

losing their heads,
the trampled lawn
a battlefield of dolls.
Branch by pruned branch, a child has climbed the family tree to queen it over us: we groundlings search the flowering cherry till we find her face, its pale prerogative to rule our hearts.
Sir Walter Raleigh trails his comforter about the muddy garden, a full-length Hilliard in miniature hose and padded pants.
How rakishly upturned his fine moustache of oxtail soup, foreshadowing, perhaps, some future time of altered favour, stuck in the high chair like a pillory, features pelted with food.
So many expeditions to learn the history of this little world: I watch him grub in the vegetable patch and ponder the potato in its natural state for the very first time, or found a settlement of leaves and sticks, cleverly protected by a circle of stones.
But where on earth did he manage to find that cigarette end? Rain and wind.
The day disintegrates.
I observe the lengthy inquisition of a worm then go indoors to face a scattered armada of picture hooks on the dining room floor, the remains of a ruff on my glass of beer, Sylvia Plath's Ariel drowned in the bath.
Washing hair, I kneel to supervise a second rinse and act the courtier: tiny seed pearls, tingling into sight, confer a kind of majesty.
And I am author of this toga'd tribune on my aproned lap, who plays his part to an audience of two, repeating my words.


by William Stafford | |

Across Kansas

 My family slept those level miles
but like a bell rung deep till dawn
I drove down an aisle of sound,
nothing real but in the bell,
past the town where I was born.
Once you cross a land like that you own your face more: what the light struck told a self; every rock denied all the rest of the world.
We stopped at Sharon Springs and ate-- My state still dark, my dream too long to tell.


by William Stafford | |

Lit Instructor

 Day after day up there beating my wings
with all the softness truth requires
I feel them shrug whenever I pause:
they class my voice among tentative things,

And they credit fact, force, battering.
I dance my way toward the family of knowing, embracing stray error as a long-lost boy and bringing him home with my fluttering.
Every quick feather asserts a just claim; it bites like a saw into white pine.
I communicate right; but explain to the dean-- well, Right has a long and intricate name.
And the saying of it is a lonely thing.


by Douglas Stewart | |

Arthur Stace


by Mark Strand | |

The Remains

 I empty myself of the names of others.
I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks; I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name.
I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones into the milky rooms of clouds.
How can I sing? Time tells me what I am.
I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.


by Hugo Williams | |

Her News

 You paused for a moment and I heard you smoking
on the other end of the line.
I pictured your expression, one eye screwed shut against the smoke as you waited for my reaction.
I was waiting for it myself, a list of my own news gone suddenly cold in my hand.
Supposing my wife found out, what would happen then? Would I have to leave her and marry you now? Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad, starting again with someone new, finding a new place, pretending the best was yet to come.
It might even be fun, playing the family man, walking around in the park full of righteous indignation.
But no, I couldn't go through all that again, not without my own wife being there, not without her getting cross about everything.
Perhaps she wouldn't mind about the baby, then we could buy a house in the country and all move in together.
That sounded like a better idea.
Now that I'd been caught at last, a wave of relief swept over me.
I was just considering a shed in the garden with a radio and a day bed, when I remembered I hadn't seen you for over a year.
"Congratulations," I said.
"When's it due?"