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8 Father's Day Poems That Say Everything You Wish You Could


"Dear Dad." That’s the way most of us will begin our obligatory Father’s Day cards. But what if you decided to mix it up this year? What if you looked to some of the world’s greatest poets to tell dad just how much you care about him? You might be surprised how touched he’ll be. That’s why we pulled together this list of 8 poems for Father’s Day.

Sure, a funny card about cracking open a beer and kicking back is a lighthearted way to say "I love you, Pop." But life is short and the important things often go unsaid... and sometimes, it's easier to say those things in a card than it is out loud. Each of these poems is, naturally, a little different, but all of them speak to the heart of the child/father relationship, a sacred bond that is hard to put into words. To communicate just how special this powerful love is and just how much a father’s care, support, and wisdom can mean to a developing child, we’ve turned to Kipling, Whitman, and even Stevie Wonder. Aren’t lyrics just poems set to music? Here are some of the verses we think best sum up the spirit of Father’s Day.

1. "If—" by Rudyard Kipling

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling wrote these final stanzas of his poem "If—" in 1895. It's written as a letter to a son and gives advice on how to manage life. And, fun fact, the stanza "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / and treat those two impostors just the same" are written on the wall of the players' entrance to the Centre Court where Wimbledon is held.

2. “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” by Marcus Amaker

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Charleston, South Carolina's poet laureate Marcus Amaker recently became a father, and his poem "Sleep when the baby sleeps," is a touching tribute to his baby girl that also tackles all the new parent experiences of worry. For a new dad, this poem would certainly touch a chord with verses like:

“Sleep when the baby sleeps,”

they say.

As if sleeping is a switch easily turned on.

Especially when all of your mind’s power is being used for the electricity of fatherhood.

3. "Fathers Are Wonderful People" by Helen Steiner Rice

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This one's a tear-jerker if that's what you're after. Helen Steiner Rice opens with the words:

Fathers are wonderful peoplet

So little understood,

And we do not sing their praises

as often as we should…

The poem goes on to detail all the ways dads are wonderful and how easy it is for their families to overlook how sweet they can be.

4. "Father" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American Victorian poet; you're probably familiar with her words: "Laugh and the world laughs with you, Weep, and you weep alone."

Her poem "Father" is perfect for this holiday:

He never made a fortune, or a noise

In the world where men are seeking after fame;

But he had a healthy brood of girls and boys

Who loved the very ground on which he trod.

They thought him just little short of God;

Oh you should have heard the way they said his name –‘Father.’

5. "As" by Stevie Wonder

From his 1976 album "Songs in the Key of Life," if this Stevie Wonder song doesn't make you think of the unconditional love between a father and his child, we don't know what will:

As now can't reveal the mystery of tomorrow

But in passing will grow older every day

Just as all is born is new

Do know what I say is true

That I'll be loving you always

Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky (always)

Until the ocean covers every mountain high (always)

Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea (always)

Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream

6. "On the Beach at Night" by Walt Whitman

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Walt Whitman uses the stars in the sky to illustrate the bond between the father and his daughter in his poem "On the Beach at Night." When she cries he soothes her with these words:

Weep not, child, Weep not, my darling,

With these kisses let me remove your tears,

The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,

They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,

Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,

7. "Love Without End, Amen" by George Straight

Country music is full of songs about daddies and their kids, but you don't have to be a big country fan to appreciate the sentiment behind this tune that'll put a big lump in Dad's throat. It's George Straight's "Love Without End, Amen." Released in 1990, the song goes,

Let me tell you a secret about a father's love

A secret that my daddy said was just between us

He said daddies don't just love their children every now and then

It's a love without end, amen

8. "To Her Father With Some Verses" by Anne Bradstreet

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Anne Bradstreet was a prominent Puritan poet in the American colonies and so this poem has that flavor, but the devotion to her dad still rings true. She basically says that everything she has and has accomplished, she owes to him.

Most truly honored, and as truly dear

If worth in me or ought I do appear

Who can of right better demand the same

Than may your worthy self from whom it came?