Coming of Age

My Mother Would Be a Falconress

by Robert Duncan

‘My Mother Would Be a Falconress’ by Robert Duncan explores a son and mother’s relationship through the lens of a falcon breaking free from his handler.

This poem's main theme of mother and son relationships finds conflict in the son's resentment as he ages. While he was younger, he followed his mother's commands, but he grows angry and resentful of her domineering control, ultimately lashing out at her. The guilt from this event still haunts him, though, even as an independent adult.

My mother would be a falconress,

And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,

would fly to bring back

from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize,

Explore more poems about Coming of Age

The Dancing

by Gerald Stern

‘The Dancing’ by Gerald Stern is an emotionally complex poem that wrestles with feelings of joy and bittersweetness inspired by a fond memory.

Part of growing up is contending with the bittersweet differences between past and present. For the speaker, they have not yet let go of the past or are driven too much by their dissatisfaction with the present.

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.

Coming of age is a very important theme in 'Hiawatha's Childhood.' It describes how the protagonist grew up and what he learned about when he was a child and a young man.

Please Mrs. Butler

by Allan Ahlberg

‘Please Mrs. Butler’ by Allan Ahlberg is a children’s poem that conveys a frustrating and purposeless conversation between a student and their teacher. 

The poem implies that the student in question should grow up and solve problems for themselves.

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. 

This poem is written from the perspective of a man who, as a child, had an uncontrollable love for chocolate cake. He's grown up now but still loves chocolate cake a great deal.

35/10

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.

All the world’s a stage

by William Shakespeare

‘All the world’s a stage’ is a well-known monologue found in William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’. This speech of Jaques explores the seven ages of man and their implications.

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.

Breaking the Surface

by Jean Bleakney

‘Breaking the Surface’ by Jean Bleakney is about the “art of skimming,” an extended metaphor for the art of writing poetry.

Elegy V: His Picture

by John Donne

‘Elegy V’ by John Donne is addressed to the poet’s lover. He asks her to accept him when he returns, despite the fact that he’s going to look and act differently.

Going to See King Lear

by Jackie Kay

‘Going to See King Lear’ by Jackie Kay describes what happens when a young girl is taken to see a traumatizing play by her mother.

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.

High Windows

by Philip Larkin

‘High Windows’ by Philip Larkin discusses the way that relationships, sex, and societal standards change from one generation to the next. 

Into My Own

by Robert Frost

Robert Frost’s ‘Into My Own’ explores the concepts of maturity and growing up. The poet delves into the exploration of childhood and self.

Is it Still the Same

by Eavan Boland

‘Is it Still the Same’ is a brilliant, affirming poem that explores memory and its relationship to a particular place and time.

Missing My Daughter

by Stephen Spender

‘Missing My Daughter’ by Stephen Spender is a poem about a speaker’s desire to see his daughter and how he feel trapped in a prison of loneliness. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Personal Helicon

by Seamus Heaney

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

Queenhood

by Simon Armitage

‘Queenhood’ by Simon Armitage was written to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. It celebrates the Queen’s lifetime of service and describes the unique features of her life. 

Quinceañera

by Judith Ortiz Cofer

‘Quinceañera’ appears in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood (1991). This coming-of-age poem is about a speaker’s physical and mental changes.

Rhyme of the Dead Self

by A.R.D. Fairburn

‘Rhyme of the Dead Self’ by A.R.D. Fairburn is a captivating poem in which the poet speaks about youth and coming of age through images of violence and religion.

Seal

by Gillian Clarke

‘Seal’ by Gillian Clarke depicts motherhood. Specifically, the poet chose to describe the experience through the relationship between a mother and a baby seal.

She rose to His Requirement—dropt

by Emily Dickinson

‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt’ by Emily Dickinson speaks to the lack of freedom and respect women had in Dickinson’s time. It emphasizes the confining nature of marriage and society’s expectations for a married woman.

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