Childhood Poems

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.

Carpet-weavers, Morocco

by Carol Rumens

‘Carpet-weavers, Morocco’ is a challenging poem which explores issues such as child labour as well as examining the myriad origins of beauty.

The youth of the weavers is central to Rumens' poem, and a crucial part of its emotive power.

Personal Helicon

by Seamus Heaney

Heaney’s ‘Personal Helicon’ draws inspiration from his rural carefree childhood and intimate connection with nature.

To Heaney, childhood is a time of innocence, awe and wonder, especially with regard to nature. The tragedy of youth, however, is that children are scarcely aware that their youth will not last forever until it has passed.

From My Life: A name trimmed with colored ribbons

by Lyn Hejinian

‘A name trimmed with colored ribbons’ by Lyn Hejinian is a Language Poem that requires the listener to use their imagination and creativity to reconstruct and interpret the poet’s childhood fantasies.

'A name trimmed with colored ribbons' takes inspiration from childhood as the speaker recalls her younger years. Her perspective mimics that of a child who observes the overwhelmingly colorful, bright world through a myopic lens. Additionally, the speaker is unreliable and shifty, and her attention is hard to hold. As such, this poem creates an atmosphere of playfulness, helping the listener see the world through a child's eyes.


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.

This poem features the childhood act of acquiring cowrie shells for fun and treasuring them as if they mean more than they actually are.

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.

The poem evokes the innocence of youth, notably the innocence of childhood observations as they lack the context necessary to understand their surroundings.

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.

In this piece, Yap shows how one boy's childhood is compromised for the want of good academic grades.

Hiawatha’s Childhood

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Hiawatha’s Childhood’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes how the protagonist of ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ grew up and learned about his surroundings. It also focuses on the life of his grandmother.

This is an excerpt from a much longer poem that focuses on the childhood of Hiawatha, one of the most important protagonist in 19th century poetry. It's only 80 or so lines long, but it outlines a great deal about the young Hiawatha's life.

August, Los Angeles, Lullaby

by Carol Muske-Dukes

‘August, Los Angeles, Lullaby’ by Carol Muske-Dukes is a contemporary poem about bringing life into the world and the worries that plague a mother after giving birth. 

In this poem, the speaker alludes to her child's life and to her own childhood. She worries about what kind of future her child is going to have and briefly mentions the fact that she does have bad memories from her own childhood.

Little Boy Blue

by Eugene Field

‘Little Boy Blue’ by Eugene Field is a beautiful, heartbreaking poem that describes the aftermath of a child’s death. It focuses on the child’s toys and how, despite many years having gone by, they’re still waiting for him. 

Childhood is an important topic at work in this poem. While the poem is not necessarily suited for children to read and enjoy, it does focus on the experience of childhood and one's youthful toys.

Imagining Their Own Hymns

by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

‘Imagining Their Own Hymns’ by Brigit Pegeen Kelly is a memorable poem that speaks about the difference between how something appears and its reality. 

This poem takes place while the speaker is still quite young, something that does influence the way it is written and how the speaker reacts to certain situations.

Jest ‘Fore Christmas

by Eugene Field

‘Jest ‘Fore Christmas’ is a humorous, five-stanza poem that’s written from the perspective of a young boy looking forward to Christmas.

Childhood is another important theme in this poem. The speaker is quite young, and the way he talks about his life is filled with the upbeat, mischievousness of childhood.

The Sheep Child

by James Dickey

‘The Sheep Child’ by James L. Dickey is a surprising and memorable poem that describes a half-sheep, half-human child that frightens the local farm boys into controlling their sexual lust. 

The sins and mistakes of childhood are a big part of this poem. The idea of the sheep child keeps young farm boys, all of whom are struggling to understand and relieve their sexual desires, from attacking farm animals.

Chocolate Cake

by Michael Rosen

‘Chocolate Cake’ by Michael Rosen is an upbeat children’s poem that describes a child’s lack of control when it comes to his favorite dessert. 

Childhood is one of the primary topics in this poem. Although the speaker is an adult, he's very convincingly recalling what it was like for him as a young boy to resist, or not, eating chocolate cake.

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.


by Sharon Olds

’35/10’ by Sharon Olds is a moving poem about the poet’s relationship with her daughter. The latter is coming into her own while the former is growing old.

90 North

by Randall Jarrell

’90 North’ by Randall Jarrell is concerned with dreams, aging, and the truth of success. The poet’s speaker realizes that success means nothing and that after achieving everything he wanted, his life is worthless. 

A Child is Something Else Again

by Yehuda Amichai

‘A Child is Something Else Again’ by Yehuda Amichai is a poem about parenthood and childhood. A child represents a great deal, the speaker says, and provides a parent with the will to live. 

A Cradle Song

by William Blake

After one and a half months of painful journey of hospitals, due to my son’s illness, I decided to read and analyze William Blake’s ‘A Cradle Song.’ Though I had read this poem during my graduation days, it touched me today when I experienced the same pain as a mother and a father.

A Fairy Tale

by Amy Lowell

A Fairy Tale, as the title of Amy Lowell’s work invokes, is something that nearly everyone can relate to. A

A Hot Noon in Malabar

by Kamala Das

The poem, ‘A Hot Noon in Malabar’, is taken from the collection of poems titled ‘Summer in Calcutta” (1965). It

A little Dog that wags his tail

by Emily Dickinson

In ‘A little Dog that wags his tail’ Emily Dickinson explores themes of human nature, the purpose of life, and freedom. She compares animals, cats and dogs, to adults and children.

A Stone is Nobody’s

by Russell Edson

‘A Stone is Nobody’s’ by Russell Edson is a memorable poem. It uses a stone, and a man’s capture of it, to describe a troubling mother/son relationship.

A Wise Old Owl

by Anonymous

‘A Wise Old Owl’ is an English nursery rhyme. It depicts the qualities an owl has that make him wise and worthy of admiration.

Abuelito Who

by Sandra Cisneros

‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.

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