close close2 chevron-circle-left chevron-circle-right twitter bookmark4 facebook3 twitter3 pinterest3 feed4 envelope star quill

Family Poems

Table of Contents

  1. A Happy Man by Edwin Arlington Robinson
  2. Our Own by Margaret E. Sangster
  3. While We Have Them by Amos Russel Wells
  4. A Song of Twilight by Unknown
  5. Which? by E. L. Beers
  6. The Grandfather by Charles G. Eastman
  7. The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Edgar Albert Guest
  8. Before the Birth of One of Her Children by Anne Bradstreet
  9. Welcome by Hulda Fetzer
  10. Be Kind by Margaret Courtney

  1. A Happy Man

    by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    When these graven lines you see,
    Traveller, do not pity me;
    Though I be among the dead,
    Let no mournful word be said.

    Children that I leave behind,
    And their children, all were kind;
    Near to them and to my wife,
    I was happy all my life.

    My three sons I married right,
    And their sons I rocked at night;
    Death nor sorrow never brought
    Cause for one unhappy thought.

    Now, and with no need of tears,
    Here they leave me, full of years,—
    Leave me to my quiet rest
    In the region of the blest.

  2. Our Own

    We have careful thought for the stranger,
    And smiles for the sometime guest,
    But oft for our own the bitter tone,
    Though we love our own the best.

    – Margaret E. Sangster
    Our Own
    by Margaret E. Sangster

    If I had known, in the morning,
    How wearily all the day
    The words unkind would trouble my mind
    That I said when you went away,
    I had been more careful, darling,
    Nor given you needless pain;
    But—we vex our own with look and tone
    We might never take back again.

    For though in the quiet evening
    You may give me the kiss of peace,
    Yet it well might be that never for me
    The pain of the heart should cease;
    How many go forth at morning
    Who never come home at night,
    And hearts have broken for harsh words spoken
    That sorrow can ne'er set right.

    We have careful thought for the stranger,
    And smiles for the sometime guest,
    But oft for our own the bitter tone,
    Though we love our own the best.
    Ah, lip with the curve impatient,
    Ah, brow with the shade of scorn,
    'T were a cruel fate were the night too late
    To undue the work of morn.

  3. While We Have Them

    So while we have our mother boy,
    Let's make her spirit blest;
    And while we have our father boy,
    Let's be our very best.

    – Amos R. Wells
    While We Have Them
    by Amos Russel Wells

    There's no one like a mother lad,
    To comfort all our pain;
    There's no one like a father lad,
    To make one smile again;
    So while we have our mother boy,
    Let's drive away her fear;
    And while we have our father boy,
    Let's fill his heart with cheer.

    There's no one like a mother lad,
    To keep us pure within;
    There's no one like a father lad,
    To warn away from sin;
    So while we have our mother boy,
    Oh let us not rebel;
    And while we have our father boy,
    Let's heed his warnings well.

    The time is surely coming lad,
    When mother will be gone;
    The time is surely coming lad,
    Of father's passing on;
    So while we have our mother boy,
    Let's make her spirit blest;
    And while we have our father boy,
    Let's be our very best.

    Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

    – Exodus 20:12
    The Bible, ESV
  4. A Song of Twilight

    by Unknown

    Oh, to come home once more, when the dusk is falling,
    To see the nursery lighted and the children's table spread;
    "Mother, mother, mother!" the eager voices calling,
    "The baby was so sleepy that he had to go to bed!"

    Oh, to come home once more, and see the smiling faces,
    Dark head, bright head, clustered at the pane;
    Much the years have taken, when the heart its path retraces,
    But until time is not for me, the image will remain.

    Men and women now they are, standing straight and steady,
    Grave heart, gay heart, fit for life's emprise;
    Shoulder set to shoulder, how should they be but ready!
    The future shines before them with the light of their own eyes.

    Still each answers to my call; no good has been denied me,
    My burdens have been fitted to the little strength that's mine,
    Beauty, pride and peace have walked by day beside me,
    The evening closes gently in, and how can I repine?

    But oh, to see once more, when the early dusk is falling,
    The nursery windows glowing and the children's table spread;
    "Mother, mother, mother!" the high child voices calling,
    "He couldn't stay awake for you, he had to go to bed!"

  5. Which?

    by E. L. Beers

    Which shall it be? Which shall it be?
    I looked at John—John looked at me;
    Dear, patient John, who loves me yet
    As well as though my locks were jet.
    And when I found that I must speak,
    My voice seemed strangely low and weak:
    "Tell me again what Robert said!"
    And then I, listening, bent my head.
    "This is his letter:"

    "'I will give
    A house and land while you shall live,
    If, in return, from out your seven,
    One child to me for aye is given.'"
    I looked at John's old garments worn,
    I thought of all that John had borne
    Of poverty, and work, and care,
    Which I, though willing, could not share;
    I thought of seven mouths to feed,
    Of seven little children's need,
    And then of this.

    "Come, John," said I,
    "We'll choose among them as they lie
    Asleep;" so, walking hand in hand,
    Dear John and I surveyed our band.
    First to the cradle light we stepped,
    Where Lilian the baby slept,
    A glory 'gainst the pillow white.
    Softly the father stooped to lay
    His rough hand down in loving way,
    When dream or whisper made her stir,
    And huskily he said: "Not her!"

    We stooped beside the trundle-bed,
    And one long ray of lamplight shed
    Athwart the boyish faces there,
    In sleep so pitiful and fair;
    I saw on Jamie's rough, red cheek,
    A tear undried. Ere John could speak,
    "He's but a baby, too," said I,
    And kissed him as we hurried by.

    Pale, patient Robbie's angel face
    Still in his sleep bore suffering's trace:
    "No, for a thousand crowns, not him,"
    He whispered, while our eyes were dim.

    Poor Dick! bad Dick! our wayward son,
    Turbulent, reckless, idle one—
    Could he be spared? "Nay, He who gave,
    Bade us befriend him to the grave;
    Only a mother's heart can be
    Patient enough for such as he;
    And so," said John, "I would not dare
    To send him from her bedside prayer."

    Then stole we softly up above
    And knelt by Mary, child of love.
    "Perhaps for her 't would better be,"
    I said to John. Quite silently
    He lifted up a curl that lay
    Across her cheek in willful way,
    And shook his head. "Nay, love, not thee,"
    The while my heart beat audibly.

    Only one more, our eldest lad,
    Trusty and truthful, good and glad
    So like his father. "No, John, no—
    I can not, will not let him go."

    And so we wrote in courteous way,
    We could not drive one child away.
    And afterward, toil lighter seemed,
    Thinking of that of which we dreamed;
    Happy, in truth, that not one face
    We missed from its accustomed place;
    Thankful to work for all the seven,
    Trusting the rest to One in heaven!

  6. The Grandfather

    by Charles G. Eastman

    The farmer sat in his easy-chair
    Smoking his pipe of clay,
    While his hale old wife with busy care,
    Was clearing the dinner away;
    A sweet little girl with fine blue eyes,
    On her grandfather's knee, was catching flies.

    The old man laid his hand on her head,
    With a tear on his wrinkled face,
    He thought how often her mother, dead,
    Had sat in the selfsame place;
    As the tear stole down from his half-shut eye,
    "Don't smoke!" said the child, "how it makes you cry!"

    The house dog lay stretched out on the floor,
    Where the shade, afternoons, used to steal;
    The busy old wife by the open door
    Was turning the spinning wheel,
    And the old brass clock on the manteltree
    Had plodded along to almost three.

    Still the farmer sat in his easy-chair,
    While close to his heaving breast
    The moistened brow and the cheek so fair
    Of his sweet grandchild were pressed;
    His head bent down, all her soft hair lay;
    Fast asleep were they both on that summer day.

  7. The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

    by Edgar Albert Guest

    It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
    Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
    But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
    A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
    When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
    With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,
    The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
    With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

    It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day
    We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
    Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
    It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
    It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
    There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
    Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
    Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

    I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
    To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
    The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
    And whether living far or near they all came trooping in
    With shouts of "Hello, daddy!" as they fairly stormed the place
    And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
    Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
    Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

    Then laughter rang throughout the home, and, Oh, the jokes they told;
    From Boston, Frank brought new ones, but father sprang the old;
    All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
    The struggles we were making and the hardships we'd gone through;
    We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly—
    It seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
    Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
    When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.

  8. Before the Birth of One of Her Children

    by Anne Bradstreet

    All things within this fading world hath end,
    Adversity doth still our joys attend;
    No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
    But with death's parting blow are sure to meet.
    The sentence past is most irrevocable,
    A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.

    How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
    How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
    We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
    These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
    That when the knot's untied that made us one,
    I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
    And if I see not half my days that's due,
    What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
    The many faults that well you know I have
    Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
    If any worth or virtue were in me,
    Let that live freshly in thy memory
    And when thou feel'st no grief, as I no harmes,
    Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms,
    And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
    Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
    And if thou love thyself, or loved'st me,
    These O protect from stepdame's injury.
    And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
    With some sad sighs honor my absent hearse;
    And kiss this paper for thy dear love's sake,
    Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

  9. Welcome

    by Hulda Fetzer

    Out in the world as sadly I yearn
    For friends I've not seen a long while;
    I know they will welcome me on my return,
    And welcome me back with a smile.

    But those who are closer, who are my own,
    Those who are very dear,
    They'll lovingly welcome me back home,
    And welcome me back with a tear.

  10. Be Kind

    by Margaret Courtney

    Be kind to thy father — for when thou wert young,
    Who loved thee so fondly as he?
    He caught the first accents that fell from thy tongue,
    And joined in thine innocent glee.

    Be kind to thy father, for now he is old,
    His locks intermingled with grey,
    His footsteps are feeble, once fearless and bold;
    Thy father is passing away.

    Be kind to thy mother — for lo! on her brow
    May traces of sorrow be seen,
    O, well mayest thou cherish and comfort her now,
    For loving and kind hath she been.

    Remember thy mother — for thee will she pray,
    As long as God giveth her breath,
    With accents of kindness, then cheer her lone way,
    E'en to the dark valley of death.

    Be kind to thy brother — his heart will have dearth,
    If the smile of thy love be withdrawn;
    The flowers of feeling will fade at their birth,
    If the dew of affection be gone.

    Be kind to thy brother — wherever you are,
    The love of a brother shall be
    An ornament purer and richer by far,
    Than pearls from the depths of the sea.

    Be kind to thy sister — not many may know
    The depth of true sisterly love;
    The wealth of the Ocean lies fathoms below
    The surface that sparkles above.

    Thy kindness shall bring to thee many sweet hours,
    And blessing thy pathway to crown;
    Affection shall weave thee a garland of flowers,
    More precious than wealth or renown.