Nicolette Sowder

may we raise children who love the unloved things by Nicolette Sowder

may we raise children who love the unloved things’ by Nicolette Sowder explores the need to love things that may not be loved otherwise. This extends right across the world, from small parts of nature, like ‘spiderlings’, right up to defending those people who cannot defend themselves. It implores parents to teach their children to care for those in need, to be good people in this world.

may we raise children who love the unloved things by Nicolette Sowder



may we raise children who love the unloved things’ by Nicolette Sowder is a poem written in advice, asking parents to raise their children to be kind. Overall else, Sowder implores that children be raised to ‘love the unloved things’. The ‘unloved things’ in this context represent all of the objects, ideas, or people that don’t get a say, or aren’t traditionally valued or important. The poet values kindness above all else.

You can read the full poem here.



Sowder’s may we raise children who love the unloved things’ is split into five stanzas, measuring between 1 and 6 lines. The change in structure, getting shorter as the poem continues, could reflect the structure of an argument, the point of the pome coming to a natural conclusion during the final line. The structure could also be a representation of the loss of voice referenced in the poem. Some people, due to political or geographical problems do not get a voice, their silencing being displayed through the thinning structure of the poem. By having the final stanza measure only one line, Sowder ensures that the final line of the poem is emphasized, drawing attention to the heart of her argument – raise children who are ‘the ones’ that defend and help others.


Poetic Techniques

Sowder uses enjambment throughout may we raise children who love the unloved things’. In using this technique, Sowder could be emphasizing the passing of time, with the whole ‘raising’ of the children framed within the short poem. The quick metrical flow from line to line allows the poet to represent this idea of aging and growing through the structure of her poem.

Another technique that Sowder employs when writing the poem is the conditional tense. By focusing on ‘may’, Sowder implies that this isn’t something certain, and must, therefore, be worked on by people if we are to actively achieve these things.


Analysis of may we raise children who love the unloved things

Stanza One

May we raise children
who love the unloved
Children who sense
the rose needs the thorn

may we raise children who love the unloved things’ begins by using the conditional tense, as I stated above in the Poetic Techniques section of the analysis. By employing the conditional tense on the very first word of the poem, Sowder emphasizes how this process is not certain. The idea of raising these children to be good humans is not a confirmed process, the poet arguing that it is something that ‘may’ happen if we begin right now. There is a sense of urgency, due to the conditionality, with Sowder imploring the idea that we must start teaching our children to love the unloved things.

The focus on the plural pronoun ‘we’ within the first line of the poem similarly emphasizes how this is a collective effort. It will not be the work of one or two people, ‘we’ must all work together to ensure that being kind and caring for those in need becomes a norm of society. This is a group effort, everyone should be involved.

The connection formed between ‘love’ and ‘unloved’ within the second line of the first stanza implies the message of the poem. Sowder wants to ensure that there is a connection between people and these ‘unloved’ things, therefore using the repetition of sound – ‘unloved’ instead of something like unappealing – to ensure that the connection is established.

The first images Sowder introduces within the poem begin with small objects, ‘dandelion’ and ‘spiderlings’ both being tiny to the eye. The use of ‘spiderlings’ affirms the small size of the animal, the suffix ‘lings’ emphasizing its tiny size. Sowder begins with small objects, showing how we must learn to love the tiniest thing before we can move up to defending those who cannot speak for themselves. Indeed, starting at this point, Sowder ensures that there is a clear path to follow, an achievable goal in ‘raising’ the children.

The image of a ‘rose needs the thorn’ is an active commentary on the idea that there must be a method for a person, or group of people, to defend themselves in the face of adversity. While it may not be pretty, the ‘thorn’ of the rose normally something people cut off or avoid, it is essential and must not detract from the individual beauty of these ‘roses’, a metaphor for people.


Stanza Two

& run into rainswept days
turn towards sun…

This stanza acts as a metaphor of taking enjoying happy and optimistic moments in life just as much as sad and depressing moments. In the face of adversity, you cannot just run away, you must ‘run into those rainswept days’, the same way you ‘turn towards sun’. ‘Sun’ and ‘rain’ act as metaphors for happiness and sorrow at this moment in the poem, Sowder suggesting a balance in life is essential and must be approached equally.


Stanza Three

And when they’re grown &
who have no voice

The third stanza of may we raise children who love the unloved things’ expands upon the initial idea of loving the small things, furthering Sowder’s argument to include people. She argues that we must teach children to fight for and defend those ‘who have no voice’, referencing the subaltern communities within our world who do not have the same political privilege that many have access to. ‘Speak’ for them, using your privilege to help them and ensure that they do not go unheard.


Stanza Four

may they draw upon that
tending tender things

In these moments of speaking for others, perhaps going against adversity in the name of another, they (the children we must raise) will draw upon that ‘wilder bond’ of the past. This references their childhood in which they ‘loved the unloved things’, defending and loving the smallest things. Now in their adulthood, drawing upon their inherent habit build through our teachings, Sowder suggests they will be ready to help others. The consonance across ‘Tending tender things’ beautiful emphasises this point, the aural associations of consonance blending with the image of ‘tender’ to represent the care they have taken in their lives.


Stanza Five

and be the ones.

The final line of the poem, comprising this whole of stanza five, states that our children will ‘be the ones’. This is in reference to the idea that they will ‘be the ones’ that ‘love the unloved things’, defend others, care for the tender things and bring a sense of joy and light to the world.

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Jack Limebear Poetry Expert
Jack is undertaking a degree in World Literature and joined the Poem Analysis team in 2019. Poetry is the intersection of his greatest passions, languages and literature, with his focus on translation bridging the gap.
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