Poems about Growing Up

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

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

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

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

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

Fear by Gabriela Mistral

‘Fear’ by Gabriela Mistral is a passionate poem about a mother’s hopes for her daughter’s future. It includes three stanzas that contain the speaker’s worries about who her daughter may turn into.

Fear by Gabriela Mistral Visual Representation

School’s Out by Amanda Gorman

‘School’s Out’ by Amanda Gorman is a powerful poem that explores the experiences of young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

School’s Out by Amanda Gorman 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

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

Belle Isle, 1949 by Philip Levine

‘Belle Isle, 1949’ by Philip Levine is a poem about a series of moments from a speaker’s youth. He swims in the Detroit River and then returns to his life. 

Belle Isle, 1949 by Philip Levine Visual Representation

Harlem Hopscotch by Maya Angelou

‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Maya Angelou is a thoughtful poem. It explores what it’s like to grow up Black in Harlem, New York.

Barn Owl by Gwen Harwood

‘Barn Owl’ by Gwen Harwood is a powerful poem about losing one’s innocence. While using symbolism, the poet depicts a child sneaking off to shoot a barn owl.

Barn owl by gwen harwood

First Day At School by Roger McGough

‘First Day At School’ by Roger McGough is an interesting poem about a child’s experience on their first day. They are lost, confused, and feeling left out throughout the day.

Sonnet 95 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 95,’ also known as ‘How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,’ is number ninety-five of one hundred fifty-four sonnets that William Shakespeare wrote.

Halfway Down by A. A. Milne

‘Halfway Down’ by A.A. Milne focuses on a moment in which a young speaker is stuck between the top of the stairs and the bottom. It is both entertaining and thoughtful.

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