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"There are far too few daughters in poetry. They turn up surprisingly rarely in nineteenth century poems, considering how they crowded into the available fictional equivalents. So it's a relief to start the twentieth century with this big, ornate and controversial poem by William Butler Yeats," says Thomas Lux in a piece he wrote about daughter poems.

Are you a daughter? Do you have a daughter? I answer no to both, but I think of my mother in her daughter role. I think of the daughter I might have had and of girls I dated who were very much someone's daughter.

Use as a starting place William Butler Yeats' poem "A Prayer..." Read Lux's piece on daughters - the article includes links to other daughter poems on the Academy of American Poets site.

For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.


When to the past turns thought,
your tiny, felt but unheard little song
sounds within me, something caught
in me that I thought was long
gone, reborn a night thirty years later
as my daughter holds her newborn child,
you return to me, my half-formed sonnet.

Lianna Wright


Two are we,
Pearl-Rose, our mother

From love, the
last of five daughters,
A daughter!
Born pure.
pearly white flesh of the baby
Two softly muted rose budded cheeks, said grandmother

Was it only a name?

Called to serve, a mission, nurse, did Pearl-Rose
spirits to bind, as the dove flies to many, did she

Bind to she, each
2 daughters
two are we

More than just a


Daughters, we

Jane Conforti


I taught my daughter--four year old Melissa--
A new word.
During an awkward silence
(And there are few awkward silences with four-year-olds),
I said, "Let's have a conversation."
And we did, about mommy, dogs, and coloring.
The next day I came home and found her
At her miniature picnic table
On the front porch
With her tea set
And she said, "Daddy, let's have a Cup-O-Sation."
From that precious second I pictured words in a cup.
And with each sip the words touch my tongue,
Balance for an instant on my palate
And gently slide to my veins and into my thoughts.
Words have since let us form an intimate shorthand
And quench our thirst to learn the language
Of father and daughter.
So I sip words with Melissa
And we let the words teach us how
To be a daughter and how to be a father,
How to learn about our world from the roles we play,
And how to spread a language
Over the table of tiny rituals
That we need to balance the saucers
That hold the cups
Filled with words
For our conversations.

Jim Cody


You don't have them, he said.
Piano fingers. Some do. Some don't.
I spread my fingers wide,
palms up, outstretched,
a child asking
and being dismissed.
I set aside lessons,
sheet music in the bench,
for you to play
exercises and etudes.
This afternoon you made me laugh
jazzing up Chopin and Schumann.
My daughter, long of leg and hair-
in your arpeggio we share
piano fingers.

Charles Michaels



for Sara  

She's in


she's out
the only

that she


has learned
to master

Her fingers


the wiggly

and she
is free


to scamper.

But every


she's poised
to go,

she stops
and turns


to push
the door

behind her.


Steve Smith



Ask one person the meaning
then another
See what you find
Some torn between two people
who must be loved equally
No differentiation

Some totally enmeshed
with no identity of their own
Some hide the hurt, shame,
guilt, anger
Some don't feel anything at all

No walks in
on a hot summer day
No snowmen to come to life
in dead of winter

Playing alone
wishing for a friend
Have to move again
Nothing's the same.

One may look and think,
"Poor child"
I look at myself
and think,

Tonya Murphy


I can't wait to
teach her about life,
she'll stand her ground, even in strife.
My little girl, so beautiful and bright,
she'll be a leader, never backing down in a fight
that she knows she's right.

I can't wait to teach her about boys,
she'll play with them as though they were toys.
In the world, she'll do her part.
And love, some young man will steal her heart,
but she'll know if he's the one, she's smart.

To her, I'll have
to explain,
the cause , the hurt, and the beauty of pain.
And when I'm gone, there will be no misery.
She'll move on with her family, and remember me.
I've got three months to go, I hope this is how she'll
turn out to be.

Vanessa Reballosa

A Daughter, Seen

I've seen
her lower her shoulders,
hunch forward,
and say, Dad! I'm only wearing...

At ten,
she covers herself, feels
the hard gaze, wants
eyes on her as she dances,
is ashamed.

I wonder
at the gifts that we are given,
see myself, spinning
on a tire swing long ago,

see her,
dance, one hip thrust out,
then stand on her head,
and grin upside down.

I live
on the line between us,
on memory's tangled string.

Brad Hyde

In Your Daddy's Eyes
(written for my oldest daughter Tara on her wedding day)

At the altar I see you standing;
One of the most precious days of your life.
By your side a special man now stands;
Who has asked to make you his wife.

So on this, your Blessed and Special Day;
These thoughts from the Heart must I say,
And present to you, my Love and Views,
In this my own special way.

For in this woman I see the infant,
In the early morn' of her birth,
A precious and special blessing,
Shared with my one True Love on Earth.

From the infant now to a child,
Strong willed, yet so close at Heart,
With a temperament so gentle,
As the wonders of her new life starts.

Now the childhood left to those teenage years,
That time of all my parenthood fears,
With times of great joy, and sometimes tears,
Yet I wonder now why, the past seems so clear.

Now the years seem to have passed so swiftly,
As your life, through teary eyes I now view,
For this day someone stands, and asks if he can,
Share in my unending love for you.

For I know that I am only human,
And yes, mistakes I have made my share,
But change would I not, the events of my life,
For my three wonderful children are there.

So as we stand together, on your wedding day,
As I lift your Veil, kiss your cheek and slowly walk away,
And at that bitter-sweet moment, I'm sure you'll realize,
How precious your life will always be;
In your Daddy's eyes.

Herman J. Mosteller, Jr.