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Famous Family Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Family poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous family poems. These examples illustrate what a famous family poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Yeats, William Butler
...this and that and t'other thing,
Deliver from the crime of death and birth.

My Self. Montashigi, third of his family, fashioned it
Five hundred years ago, about it lie
Flowers from I know not what embroidery -
Heart's purple - and all these I set
For emblems of the day against the tower
Emblematical of the night,
And claim as by a soldier's right
A charter to commit the crime once more.

My Soul. Such fullness in that quarter overflows
And falls into the bas...Read More



by Plath, Sylvia
...ined, pawing like paradeground horses.
Overhead, the clouds sit tasseled and fancy

As Victorian cushions. This family
Of valentine faces might please a collector:
They ring true, like good china.

Elsewhere the landscape is more frank.
The light falls without letup, blindingly.

A woman is dragging her shadow in a circle
About a bald hospital saucer.
It resembles the moon, or a sheet of blank paper
And appears to have suffered a sort of private blitzk...Read More

by Lehman, David
...o Christianity.
They came to this country and settled in the Southwest.
At some point oral tradition failed the family, and their
 secret faith died.
No one would ever have known if not for the bones that turned up
 on the dig.
A disaster. How could it have happened to them?
They are in a state of panic--at first.
Then they realize that it is the answer to their prayers.
They hasten to the synagogue or build new ones.
They are Jews at last!
The...Read More

by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...gh those dreary shades, 
Which veil'd the world e'er yet the golden sun 
Of revelation beam'd. Seth, Enos, and 
The family of him preserv'd from death 
By flood of waters. Abram and that swain 
Who erst exil'd in Midian did sing 
The world from chaos rising, and the birth 
Of various nature in the earth, or sea, 
Or element of air, or heav'n above. 


This is that light which on fair Zion hill 
Descending gradual, in full radiance beam'd 
O'er Canaan's happy land....Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...t a big funeral
St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Mark's Church, the largest synagogue in 
 Manhattan
First, there's family, brother, nephews, spry aged Edith stepmother 
 96, Aunt Honey from old Newark,
Doctor Joel, cousin Mindy, brother Gene one eyed one ear'd, sister-
 in-law blonde Connie, five nephews, stepbrothers & sisters 
 their grandchildren,
companion Peter Orlovsky, caretakers Rosenthal & Hale, Bill Morgan--
Next, teacher Trungpa Vajracharya's ghost mind, Gelek...Read More



by Tate, James
... 
Their children get caught shoplifting at the mall 
and no one admits that it is poetry they are missing. 
The family dog howls all night, 
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life. 
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations, 
croquet, fox hunts, their sea shores and sunsets, 
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and ...Read More

by Taylor, Edward
... 
Their children get caught shoplifting at the mall 
and no one admits that it is poetry they are missing. 
The family dog howls all night, 
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life. 
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations, 
croquet, fox hunts, their sea shores and sunsets, 
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and ...Read More

by Keats, John
...'d it, as my sense was fill'd
With that new blissful golden melody.
A living death was in each gush of sounds,
Each family of rapturous hurried notes,
That fell, one after one, yet all at once,
Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string:
And then another, then another strain,
Each like a dove leaving its olive perch,
With music wing'd instead of silent plumes,
To hover round my head, and make me sick
Of joy and grief at once. Grief overcame,
And I was stopping...Read More

by Larkin, Philip
...en 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 theologie...Read More

by Angelou, Maya
...each other we can make ourselves whole.
I look through the posture and past your disguise,
And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.

I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground,
I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love,
I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference,
Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts,
Let us come together and revise our spirits,
Let us come together a...Read More

by Frost, Robert
...I met a lady from the South who said
(You won't believe she said it, but she said it):
"None of my family ever worked, or had
A thing to sell." I don't suppose the work
Much matters. You may work for all of me.
I've seen the time I've had to work myself.
The having anything to sell is what
Is the disgrace in man or state or nation.

I met a traveler from Arkansas
Who boasted of his state as beautiful
For diamonds and apples. "Diamo...Read More

by Milton, John
...ot to begin 
Thenceforth the form of servant to assume; 
As when he washed his servants feet; so now, 
As father of his family, he clad 
Their nakedness with skins of beasts, or slain, 
Or as the snake with youthful coat repaid; 
And thought not much to clothe his enemies; 
Nor he their outward only with the skins 
Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more. 
Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness, 
Arraying, covered from his Father's sight. 
To him with swift as...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...the babe’s
 cradle;

The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for dancers’ feet; 
The shape of the planks of the family home, the home of the friendly parents and children,

The shape of the roof of the home of the happy young man and woman—the roof over the
 well-married
 young man and woman, 
The roof over the supper joyously cook’d by the chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the
 chaste
 husband, content after his day’s work.

The shapes arise! 
The shape of the p...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...d close, 
Toil, healthy toil and sweat, endless, without cessation,
The old, old general burdens, interests, joys, 
The family, parentage, childhood, husband and wife, 
The house-comforts—the house itself, and all its belongings, 
Food and its preservations—chemistry applied to it; 
Whatever forms the average, strong, complete, sweet-blooded Man or Woman—the perfect,
 longeve
 Personality,
And helps its present life to health and happiness—and shapes its Soul, 
For the eterna...Read More

by Stevens, Wallace
...ient purple, pruned to the fertile main, 
544 And sown again by the stiffest realist, 
545 Came reproduced in purple, family font, 
546 The same insoluble lump. The fatalist 
547 Stepped in and dropped the chuckling down his craw, 
548 Without grace or grumble. Score this anecdote 
549 Invented for its pith, not doctrinal 
550 In form though in design, as Crispin willed, 
551 Disguised pronunciamento, summary, 
552 Autumn's compendium, strident in itself 
55...Read More

by Bradstreet, Anne
...
4.16 Who climbs without hold, climbs dangerously.
4.17 Be my condition mean, I then take pains
4.18 My family to keep, but not for gains.
4.19 If rich, I'm urged then to gather more
4.20 To bear me out i' th' world and feed the poor;
4.21 If a father, then for children must provide,
4.22 But if none, then for kindred near ally'd;
4.23 If Noble, then mine honour to maintain;
4.24 If not, yet wealth, Nobility can gain.
4.25 F...Read More

by Tebb, Barry
...ture, vinyl gloss, cabinets

Of china dogs and photographs of a departed wife and child.

All that remained of your family was a hidden coat of red paint

Beneath the kitchen windowsill and on a faded page the number for

Your long-gone neighbour, Lilly Clarke, ninety if she lives at all,

The memory of a lilac tree, the Anderson shelter hidden by the fence,

And the incomer’s invitation to call again and then and then...



We were wrong from the beginning, y...Read More

by Thomson, James
...mock
The nimble Fowler's Aim. -- Now Nature droops;
Languish the living Herbs, with pale Decay:
And all the various Family of Flowers
Their sunny Robes resign. The falling Fruits, 
Thro' the still Night, forsake the Parent-Bough,
That, in the first, grey, Glances of the Dawn,
Looks wild, and wonders at the wintry Waste.

THE Year, yet pleasing, but declining fast,
Soft, o'er the secret Soul, in gentle Gales, 
A Philosophic Melancholly breathes,
And bears the swell...Read More

by Miller, Alice Duer
...e—and I think so still.

But a day came when I was forced to face
Facts. I was taken down to see the place,
The family place in Devon— and John's mother.
'Of course, you understand,' he said, 'my brother
Will have the place.' He smiled; he was so sure
The world was better for primogeniture.
And yet he loved that place, as Englishmen
Do love their native countryside, and when
The day should be as it was sure to be—
When this was home no more to him— when he...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...o you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and
 election? or with your wife and family? 
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares?

—These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them. 

Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross’d you are! 
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of what ava...Read More

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