Childhood

Poems about childhood have been written in every style and form throughout the history of poetry. These poems explore how one’s childhood influences them as they age, experiences and freedoms (or lack thereof) in childhood, adults looking back on their childhood fondly (or not), and much more.

It’s hard to define the limits of poems about childhood because they are so broad and multi-faceted. Sometimes these poems are uplifting; sometimes, they are incredibly depressing and surprising. Readers shouldn’t be shocked to find childhood poems filled with nostalgia for the past and the way that a speaker lived and appreciated the small things when they were a child.

an afternoon nap by Arthur Yap

‘an afternoon nap’ by Arthur Yap explores the lacunae in the modern education system and how it results in anxiety and stress in students.

Consolidation by Jean Bleakney

Jean Bleakney’s ‘Consolidation’ is a deeply personal poem about the act of rearranging the cowry shells that the speaker and her children gathered in the past.

Ebb by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘Ebb’ is about a car journey by the shore and comments on aging, industrialization, and the past.

Two Little Shadows by Anonymous

‘Two Little Shadows’ is a poem by an unknown author about motherhood. It uses examples of figurative language to describe children.

My Mother by Ellen Bryant Voigt

‘My Mother’ by Ellen Bryant Voigt explores a speaker’s understanding of her mother and how her mother considered her as she aged.

Pride by Jackie Kay

‘Pride’ by Jackie Kay is a moving poem about identity and pride. The poet utilized her personal experience when writing this piece. 

White Roses by Gillian Clarke

‘White Roses’ by Gillian Clarke is a heart-wrenching poem and true story about a sick child who bravely contends with pain during his short life. 

The Stare by Sujata Bhatt

‘The Stare’ by Sujata Bhatt describes an interaction between a human child and a monkey child at a zoo. It conveys the peaceful curiosity the two show towards one another.

The Need to Recall the Journey by Sujata Bhatt

‘The Need to Recall the Journey’ by Sujata Bhatt is a poem about the past and a speaker’s desire to return to the moment her child was born. It was too fleeting, she feels, and she can’t help but wish she was there again.

My Grandmother by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’ by Jackie Kay depicts the poet’s understanding of her grandmother. The includes a juxtaposition between her positive and negative qualities. 

The Railway Children by Seamus Heaney

‘The Railway Children’ by Seamus Heaney is a beautiful poem about the imagination of children. Specifically, Heaney conveys and experience from his youth.

Pork Pies by Jackie Kay

‘Pork Pies’ by Jackie Kay is a unique poem about the kidnapping of a child by two other young children who may have also taken his life. It was likely inspired by real-life events.

Muse by Meena Alexander

‘Muse’ by Meena Alexander is a poem about the poet’s muse or source of inspiration. The poet recalls meeting and being positively influenced by a girl in her youth. 

The Storm-Wind by William Barnes

‘The Storm-Wind’ by William Barnes contrasts peace and danger with images of home and a terrifying storm. The poem emphasizes how much easier it is to appreciate the safety of home when the conditions outside are so inhospitable.

My Grandmother’s Houses by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’s Houses’ by Jackie Kay is a thoughtful recollection of youth and a young speaker’s relationship with her eccentric grandmother, who is forced to move homes.

Got You by Jackie Kay

‘Got You’ by Jackie Kay is an interesting poem about sibling jealousy and the strength of sisterhood. The speaker is a discouraged child who believes her sister is superior to her in every way.

Amethyst Beads by Eavan Boland

‘Amethyst Beads’ by Eavan Boland alludes to Greek mythology and the suffering of a child, Persephone, after she was separated from her mother, Demeter.

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) by William Blake

‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake depicts the poor children of London attending church on Holy Thursday. Specifically, Blake describes their songs, appearance, and how their existence challenges the message the church is trying to convey.

Divorce by Jackie Kay

‘Divorce’ by Jackie Kay is about parent-child relationships and how children are impacted by adults’ issues. The speaker is a teenager who is struggling to contend with her parent’s relationship with one another. 

3 November 1984 by Sujata Bhatt

In ‘3 November 1984,’ Indian-English poet Sujata Bhatt shows how history plays a vital role in the process of writing poetry, and their interconnectedness.

Cityscape by Eavan Boland

‘Cityscape’ by Eavan Boland is a complex, allusion-filled poem that describes Dublin and the Blackrock Baths, and presents contrasting images of past and present. 

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