Poems about Childhood

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. 

90 North by Randall Jarrell Visual Representation

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 Child is Something Else Again by Yehuda Amichai Visual Representation

Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest

‘Only a Dad’ by Edgar Albert Guest is dedicated to the poet’s father. The poem describes the man’s willingness to self-sacrifice and do whatever he can to make his children happy. 

Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest Visual Representation

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.

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros Visual Representation

Persimmons by Li-Young Lee

‘Persimmons’ by Li-Young Lee is a beautiful poem that describes the poet’s interest in language. It explores how a persimmon comes to symbolize both his family connections and his feelings of alienation from his peers. 

Persimmons by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Nightmare Begins Responsibility by Michael S. Harper

‘Nightmare Begins Responsibility’ by Michael S. Harper is an unforgettable poem in which the speaker describes the loss of a child. While struggling to trust the doctors caring for his newborn son, the speaker watches on helplessly. 

Old Man by Edward Thomas

‘Old Man’ by Edward Thomas is a thoughtful piece about the loss of memory and a disconnect to one’s past. 

Old Man by Edward Thomas Visual Representation

Mr. Nobody by Anonymous

‘Mr. Nobody’ by Anonymous is a clever children’s poem that shifts the blame for all mischief and messes over to an unknown entity– Mr. Nobody. 

Mr. Nobody by Anonymous Visual Representation

Incident by Countee Cullen

‘Incident’ by Countee Cullen describes a terrible incident from the poet’s youth that occurred when he was happily visiting Baltimore. 

Incident by Countee Cullen Visual Representation

Nikki-Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

In ‘Nikki-Rosa,’ Nikki Giovanni explores her experiences while growing up in a closely-knit black community in 1950s America.

Nikki-Rosa by Nikki Giovanni Visual Representation

Parents by William Meredith

‘Parents’ by William Meredith is an interesting and relatable poem about childhood and parenthood. It is at times moving and comedic.

Parents by William Meredith Visual Representation

Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter by John Crowe Ransom

‘Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter’ by John Crowe Ransom is an elegy for Whiteside’s daughter, a young girl who passed away suddenly. It’s unclear why she died, but, the speaker spends the bass majority of this poem depicting her lively and playful life.

Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter by John Crowe Ransom Visual Representation

Babies by Alice Fulton

‘Babies’ by Alice Fulton describes the different ways that children and adults understand the world. The latter’s perspective is informed by years of conflict, lies that can’t be apologized for, and the realization that some parts of one’s life are so important that you only get one shot at them.

Babies by Alice Fulton Visual Representation

Hush little baby, don’t say a word by Mother Goose

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word” by Mother Goose is a popular nursery rhyme that originated in the southern United States. It is addressed to a crying child and includes the many things that their father would do for them to make them happy.

Hush little baby, don't say a word by Mother Goose Visual Representation

One For Sorrow

‘One For Sorrow’ it’s an old English nursery rhyme that playfully interprets magpies (a type of bird) as signs of the future. 

One for Sorrow Visual Representation

How Many Miles to Babylon?

‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’ is a children’s nursery rhyme and singing game that was first recorded in the 19th-century. 

How Many Miles to Babylon? Visual Representation

Flower On the Road by Chitra Padmanabhan

‘Flower On the Road’ by Chitra Padmanabhan is a sweet and simple children’s poem that emphasizes everyone’s ability to bring joy to the world, no matter their size.

Flower On the Road by Chitra Padmanabhan Visual Representation

The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘The Wind’ by Robert Louis Stevenson inquires into the nature of the wind. Stevenson uses a young speaker in order to adequately convey a child-like wonder of this common element.

The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson Visual Representation

Stafford Afternoons by Carol Ann Duffy

Duffy’s ‘Stafford Afternoons’ is all about a child losing her way in the adult world and coming across an offensive scene that would leave its dark imprints in her mind.

Stafford Afternoons by Carol Ann Duffy Visual Representation

Homecoming by Lenrie Peters

‘Homecoming’ by Lenrie Peters is a poem about someone returning home after a long time away. This person is moved by the immense changes that their home has undergone during this period. 

Homecoming by Lenrie Peters Visual Representation

The Beach by Robert Graves

‘The Beach’ by Robert Graves is a poem about the contrast between childhood innocence and an adult mindset. The poem depicts this dichotomy by demonstrating the difference between how a boatman and a group of children interact with the ocean.

The Beach by Robert Graves Visual Representation

The Lost Pilot by James Tate

‘The Lost Pilot’ is dedicated to James Tate’s father, who died on a bombing mission in World War II in 1944. He was a co-pilot of a B-17.

The Lost Pilot by James Tate Visual Representation

Barbed Wire by Henry Taylor

‘Barbed Wire’ is a poem about the tragic death of a horse on a summer afternoon. This piece explores the quick, sudden death of the horse.

Barbed Wire by Henry Taylor Visual Representation

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 Stone is Nobody’s by Russell Edson Visual Representation

The Kid by Ai

Ai’s poem ‘The Kid’ presents a haunting tale of a fourteen-year-old boy who kills his mother, sister, and grandfather, and then runs away. It appears in her award-winning poetry collection Vice: New and Selected Poems (1999).

The Kid by Ai Visual Representation

Adolescence by W.H. Auden

‘Adolescence’ by W.H. Auden is an interesting and complex poem. In it, the speaker analyzes and describes the life and experiences of a young man.

Adolescence by W.H. Auden Visual Representation

The Spanish Needle by Claude McKay

‘The Spanish Needle’ by Claude McKay is thoughtful and image-filled. The poet looks back on his speaker’s past and directs his words to a plant.

The Spanish Needle by Claude McKay Visual Representation

Begotten by Andrew Hudgins

‘Begotten’ appears in the American poet Andrew Hudgins’ poetry collection The Glass Hammer: A Southern Childhood (1994). This poem is about a child finding his resemblance to the other members of his family.

Begotten by Andrew Hudgins Visual Representation

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