Below, readers can explore ten wonderful poems that depict different familial relationships and situations. Some are based purely on love, respect, and affection, while others are more contentious and suggest deeper rifts that need to be healed. It’s likely that most readers are going to find a poem on this list that they relate to.
Best Poems about Family
- 1 Family House by Gillian Clarke
- 2 Human Family by Maya Angelou
- 3 Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House by A.K. Ramanujan
- 4 I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party by Chen Chen
- 5 Eating Together by Li-Young Lee
- 6 The Myth of Music by Rachel M. Harper
- 7 The Stick-Together Families by Edgar Guest
- 8 Storm Fear by Robert Frost
- 9 My Parents by Stephen Spender
- 10 FAQs
‘Family House’ by Gillian Clarke is a free verse poem that explores a speaker’s cherished childhood memories. The speaker experiences the realization that her childhood home, and the memories she has of it, are no longer the same. The physical house is essentially lost, and a great deal has changed over time. Here are a few of the final lines:
From a hundred miles and thirty
I smell long rows of fruit,
turned to rotten gourds of juice
soft skinned as toads.
Now the vegetable garden is a lawn,
Explore more Gillian Clarke poems.
‘Human Family’ expresses an incredibly relatable message about family. The poet speaks broadly about the world, unity, and how we are all connected. The poem alludes to personal connections as well as those that one will never be completely aware of. Here are a few lines:
The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.
Discover more Maya Angelou poems.
Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House by A.K. Ramanujan
‘Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House’ is an image-rich poem that uses a house and all the objects and memories, happy and sad, it contains to speak about a family’s personal history. The poet tells the story of how everything that comes into his house stays there. Or, if it leaves, how it will inevitably come back again. Here are a few lines:
Sometimes I think that nothing
that ever comes into this house
goes out. Things that come in everyday
to lose themselves among other things
lost long ago among
other things lost long ago;
Read more A. K. Ramanujan poems.
I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party by Chen Chen
In this poem, Chen Chen speaks about modern families, mainly focusing on the way they communicate or fail to do so. The speaker describes a dinner party that includes him, his boyfriend, and his parents. They have trouble with their son’s relationship, and the dinner does not go perfectly. Here are a few lines:
In the invitation, I tell them for the seventeenth time
(the fourth in writing), that I am gay.
In the invitation, I include a picture of my boyfriend
& write, You’ve met him two times. But this time,
Read more Chen Chen poems.
‘Eating Together’ is a contemporary poem about death. It uses a thoughtful simile and direct language. The poem begins with the speaker using a matter-of-fact tone to describe his family’s meal. Their father is missing from the table, and it soon becomes clear that he’s passed away. Here are a few lines from the end of the poem:
the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.
Read more Li-Young Lee poems.
‘The Myth of Music’ is a beautiful poem in which the speaker describes the mythical power of music to convey one’s generational, personal, and familial relationships. The speaker is interested in a particular type of music, that which has been given to her as an “oral history” by her family. It’s the melody of her inheritance. Here are the first lines of the poem:
If music can be passed on
like brown eyes or a strong
left hook, this melody
is my inheritance, lineage traced
through a title track,
displayed on an album cover
that you pin to the wall
as art […]
In the next lines, she recalls past experiences that gave her great peace, being with her family, and those that occur after that sadden her like her mother leaving.
Discover more Rachel M. Harper poems.
In ‘The Stick-Together Families,’ Guest describes the main reason that some families, rich or poor, are happier than others. The poem begins by stating that the most “gladsome” families are those that stick together. They do not let circumstances separate them for any reason. If a family stays true to this way of being then, they will, rich or poor, be joyful. Here is the first stanza:
The stick-together families are happier by far
Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.
The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make
A circle at the fireside that no power but death can break.
And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun
Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.
In the following lines, the speaker outlines how much better off “stick-together” families are than those who do not try to remain by one another’s side. It’s impossible for separated families to find the same love with one another.
Explore more Edgar Guest poems.
‘Storm Fear’ by Robert Frost is an interesting poem that details a man’s attempts to protect his family during a frightening storm. Throughout the poem, the speaker describes hiding inside his home, trying to protect those he loves. The fire is dying, and the cold is creeping steadily inside. Here are a few lines from the beginning of the poem:
When the wind works against us in the dark,
And pelts the snow
The lower chamber window on the east,
And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,
‘Come out! Come out!’—
It costs no inward struggle not to go,
There’s nothing the speaker, who is likely the father, can do to prevent the cold from reaching his family. He admits this at the end of the poem, saying that he isn’t sure they’ll make it through the night without help.
Read more Robert Frost poems.
This piece discusses bullying and the desire to make friends. It is written from the first-person point of view. The speaker describes how his parents kept him away from other boys, trying to protect him from those they thought would harm him. They are ragged young boys who may be suffering from impoverished economic circumstances. Here are a few lines:
My parents kept me from children who were rough
Who threw words like stones and wore torn clothes
Their thighs showed through rags they ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.
Spender’s speaker makes it clear, through allusion and imagery, that his parents gave him a life that was far more privileged than what these ragged boys were dealing with. This is something he had a hard time appreciating as a child.
Discover more Stephen Spender poems.
The best way to write a family poem is to focus on one’s own experiences. Look back at meaningful memories, important periods in one’s life, and relationships that define how you think about what family is.
Some writers choose to write about families because they have an issue with their won they want to express and try to come to terms with. Others may want to celebrate the influence their mother, father, etc., had on them in their most formative years.