Poems about Family

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

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper

‘Grandfather’ by Michael S. Harper describes the treatment Harper’s grandfather endured and alludes to racism within the United States more generally. 

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper 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

Sadie and Maud by Gwendolyn Brooks

‘Sadie and Maud’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a poem about finding happiness, dealing with sexism, and society’s expectations. It features the stories of two sisters-Maud and Sadie who take different paths in life. 

Sadie and Maud by Gwendolyn Brooks Visual Representation

Aviation by Alice Fulton

‘Aviation’ by Alice Fulton is a poem about a single speaker’s highly relatable feelings of isolation in her small town. She sees herself as separate and alienated from those around her.

Aviation by Alice Fulton Visual Representation

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer

‘The Broken Chain’ by Ron Tranmer explores the feelings of grief that a family suffers when one of their much-loved members passed away. The poet uses the metaphor of a broken chain to describe their loss.

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer Visual Representation

Docker by Seamus Heaney

‘Docker’ is a 1966 poem by Seamus Heaney which depicts the life of a dockworker in Belfast and explores his personal and religious sense of discord.

Docker by Seamus Heaney Poem Visual Representation

Coward by A.R. Ammons

‘Coward’ by A.R. Ammons is a very short poem that speaks about bravery and asks the reader to analyze the truth of a single statement. 

Coward by A.R. Ammons Visual Representations

Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe

‘Spirits of the Dead’ by Edgar Allan Poe is a beautiful poem that describes life and death. Specifically, the poet dwells on what it means to move from one world to the next. 

Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe Visual Representation

The Tropics in New York by Claude McKay

‘The Tropics in New York’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about homesickness. It takes place in New York and includes a speaker’s longing for the elements of his home. 

The Tropics in New York by Claude McKay Visual Representation

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen

‘Grandmother’ (1991) is written by the Native American feminist poet Paula Gunn Allen. This poem is about the role of a speaker’s grandmother in her family.

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen Visual Representation

Sea Grapes by Derek Walcott

‘Sea Grapes’ by Derek Walcott is a deep and interesting poem. In it, Walcott uses numerous allusions to convey a message about choosing between lust and responsibility. 

Sea Grapes by Derek Walcott 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

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher

‘Black Silk’ by Tess Gallagher is a sorrowful poem. In it, the speaker uses a silk vest to convey the emotion surrounding a loss.

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher Visual Representation

Origin of the Marble Forest by Gregory Orr

‘Origin of the Marble Forest’ by Gregory Orr is an interesting and moving poem about someone’s past relationships. The speaker declares them “stone,” solidifying them in their life forever. 

Origin of the Marble Forest by Gregory Orr Visual Representation

Nani by Alberto Ríos

‘Nani’ by Alberto Ríos is a multi-layered poem. In it, the poet addresses themes like family, heritage, and the past. 

Nani by Alberto Ríos Visual Representation

The Throwback by Paul Muldoon

‘The Throwback’ by Paul Muldoon is a thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker celebrates his partner’s heritage and relates it back to Ancient Greece.

Eating Together by Li-Young Lee

‘Eating Together’ by Li-Young Lee is a beautiful contemporary poem about death. It uses a thoughtful simile and direct language.

Eating Together by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Hot Combs by Natasha Trethewey

‘Hot Combs’ by Natasha Trethewey is an emotional poem about the past. It includes images of a speaker’s mother and how she looked as she fixed her hair.

Hot Combs by Natasha Trethewey Visual Representation

My Father by Peter Oresick

‘My Father’ by Peter Oresick is a poem that delves into the narrator’s relationship with his father. The narrator is regretful that his father’s pain created a wall between them, and he yearns to better understand him.

My Father by Peter Oresick Visual Representation

Hitchhiker by John Payne

‘Hitchhiker’ by John Payne is an interesting poem about a speaker’s reaction to loss. They address someone who has passed away and explore what that means for them.

hitchhiker by john payne visual representation

Sonnet by George Henry Boker

‘Sonnet’ by George Henry Boker is a war-time sonnet. It was written in order to emphasize how brave soldiers are and what they sacrifice.

sonnet by george henry boker visual representation

Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall

‘Afterglow’ by Helen Lowrie Marshall is a popular funeral poem. It describes a speaker’s hope that they’re remembered fondly and warmly.

Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall visual_representation

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