Morning Song, Poems for New Parents

A Sampling of Poems

Poems To Listen To

Sonnet 17 by William Shakespeare
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Seed Leaves by Richard Wilbur
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Morning Song by Sylvia Plath
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Waking with Russell by Don Paterson
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The Video by Fleur Adcock
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Emily Wants to Play by Mary Jo Salter
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Dusk by Sappho, translated by Robert Bagg
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Kiss Her Dreaming by Chivas Sandage
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Poems to Read

The Beautiful

Three things there are more beautiful
Than any man could wish to see:
The first, it is a full- rigged ship
Sailing with all her sails set free;
The second, when the wind and sun
Are playing in a field of corn;
The third, a woman, young and fair,
Showing her child before it is born.

W. H. Davies

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Giving birth was the funniest

Giving birth was the funniest.
“Go,” said the grumpy nurse
and vaguely waved
in the direction down the hallway.
I grabbed my belly and went.
Walked and walked, then saw
a mirror, and in it a belly
dressed in a shirt up to the navel,
on thin shaky legs
the color of lilac…
Laughed for about five minutes.
Five minutes later gave birth.

Vera Pavlova
Translated from the Russian by Steven Seymour

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The Son

Ah son, do you know, do you know
where you come from?

From a lake with seagulls
white and hungry.

Near the winter water
she and I raised
a red bonfire
wearing out our lips
from kissing the soul,
casting all into the fire
burning our life.

That’s how you came to the world.

But she, to see me
and to see you, one day
crossed the oceans,
and I, to hold
her small waist,
wandered all the earth,
across wars and mountains,
through sand and thorns.

That’s how you came to the world.

You come from so many places,
from water and earth,
from fire and snow,
you walk from far away
toward us two,
from the terrible love
that has bewitched us,
so we want to know
what you’re like, what you say to us,
because you know more
of the world we gave you.

Like a great storm
we shake
the tree of life
to its most hidden
root fibers
and you appear now
singing in the foliage,
in the highest branch
we reach with you.

Pablo Neruda
Translated from the Spanish by Alison Sparks and Ilan Stavans

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Siena, age 3 months

I carried my baby down the dark
road between the moon
and pond. She cried as if she wanted
some better balance
of light and water.
I tried
to sing her what quiet
I could take from those places.
But she cried
as if she needed calm
from far below me,
below the search for balance,
into rock, down where centers
meet, where I could no more
extract it than she would know
if she saw it. As if she knew
I could grasp at the loss
as ballast against falling
or floating any sudden way.
that I could hold her close
against both our uneven places
and sway and sway and sway and sway.

Michael Chrisman

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A Cradle Song

The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.
God’s laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with His mood.
I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you have grown.

William Butler Yeats

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Kiss Her Dreaming

Bright plastic people, tall
as a finger, perch in laps of monkeys,
lambs, bears and babies that live
on my daughter’s pillow. They stare
me right in the eye as I quickly
move them aside with one arm
while the other holds her sleeping
four- year- old body, limp
legs dangling. I manage
to pull back her blanket only to reveal
another battalion of small dolls sleeping side
by side, heads tucked tightly
under the sheet with no chance
of peeking out for a breath.

My arm’s reach toward an efficient sweep
slows mid-air, becoming more respectful
of their persons— as if she’s watching.
Laying her down, I’m stopped
by the smell of fine, brown hair,
must rub my thumb across
her cheek, smoothing
a place to kiss her dreaming
face. I stoop to plant that kiss as if
it will be absorbed into her
every bone, every cell. As if, though
she will not remember, she’ll know.

Chivas Sandage

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12 May 1996

Yes, we can loll here for six more chapters, before— yes,
waffles, yes you can stay naked all day or until you think
you need clothes, yes to butter on the video popcorn today
and me beside you for not just the scary parts, then yes
to a rain- walk, yes, even to the culvert rushing water and
the long way home, yes to candles with dinner, yes to no
lettuce, yes, I’ll save the opera and switch to jazz, yes—
a bath bead?— take two, and yes I will sing the song, yes,
just this once, three times.

Ellen Doré Watson

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