Father's Day is a special time of year, and one that often has us scrambling to find the perfect gift for the dads in our lives. The one thing I've learned from my own adventures in trying to figure out exactly what to get my own dad, however, is that there is something special in giving a gift that is unique and heartfelt. This year, my brother asked me to help him find the perfect Father's Day poem from a son for our dad, and so I went on a quest to find the best poetry about father-son relationships throughout history.
It turns out that finding a poem that perfectly sums of a son's relationship with his father is not easy. There is plenty of Mother's Day poetry out there, as well as father-daughter poems, but not as many that showcase the love, caring, devotion, and special relationship that only a father can have with his son. They're hard to find, sure, but find them I did.
From "Only A Dad" By Edgar Albert Guest to "Those Winter Sundays" By Robert Hayden, here are eight poems that showcase the often complicated, peculiar, and exceptional relationship between fathers and sons. Now go ahead, add these to your Father's Day card, and wish the father in your life a very special day. Your dad, who is a man of words, will be moved by them.
1. "Only A Dad" By Edgar Albert Guest
"Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice."
Read the rest of "Only A Dad" by Edgar Albert Guest.
2. "Brock" By Paul Muldoon
"When he piddles against a bullaun
I know he carries bovine TB
but what I see
is my father in his Sunday suit’s
bespoke lime and lignite,
patrolling his now-diminished estate
and taking stock of this and that."
Read the rest of "Brock" by Paul Muldoon.
3. "My Papa's Waltz" By Theodore Roethke
"You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt."
Read the rest of "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke.
4. "Youth" By James Wright
His song remains secret.
He worked too hard to read books.
He never heard how Sherwood Anderson
Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself
From his hatred of factories.
My father toiled fifty years
At Hazel-Atlas Glass,
Caught among girders that smash the kneecaps
Of dumb honyaks.
Did he shudder with hatred in the cold shadow of grease?
Maybe. But my brother and I do know
He came home as quiet as the evening."
Read the rest of "Youth" by James Wright.
5. "Father" By Edgar Albert Guest
"My father, in a day or two
Could land big thieves in jail;
There’s nothing that he cannot do,
He knows no word like 'fail.'
'Our confidence' he would restore,
Of that there is no doubt;
But if there is a chair to mend,
We have to send it out."
Read the rest of "Father" by Edgar Albert Guest.
6. "The Gift" By Li-Young Lee
"I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head."
Read the rest of "The Gift" by Li-Young Lee.
7. "The Harp" By Bruce Weigl
"When he was my age and I was already a boy
my father made a machine in the garage.
A wired piece of steel
with many small and beautiful welds
ground so smooth they resembled rows of pearls.
He went broke with whatever it was.
He held it so carefully in his arms.
He carried it foundry to foundry.
I think it was his harp,
I think it was what he longed to make
with his hands for the world."
Read the rest of "The Harp" by Bruce Weigl
8. "Those Winter Sundays" By Robert Hayden
"Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him."
Read the rest of "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden.