Monday, August 11, 2008

Fathers and Poems

Impending fatherhood has got me thinking about poems about fathers or by fathers. Here are some I like. This list is by no means exhaustive.

One of my all-time favorites, "Those Winter Sundays," by Robert Hayden.

Another beauty, "My Papa's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke.

Philip Larkin's classic "This Be The Verse."

There's Ariel's song from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

An elegiac Li-Young Lee in "Eating Together."

Ezra Pound on cultural paternity in "A Pact."

There are many other poems I could link to. Instead, I'll paste a poem I wrote a number of years ago, before our little unborn baby was even a gleam in my eye. I suppose you could call it an homage to my own father (whose name sadly isn't "Cecil").


In the Seventies the Later Cecils
slammed Pabst Blue Ribbons, got stoned on Sticky
Fingers, while the Middle Cecils stammered
about mid-Century modern design,
smoked Gauloises cigarettes, and drank Vermouth.
The Early Cecils in their advanced years
sentimentalized the heroic feats
of the Ancient Cecils, the all-time
best generation of Cecil, hands down.

In the Eighties the Later Cecils tied
their knots, switched to Scotch whiskey, and suffered
the vicissitudes of volatile stocks.
They sired the rambunctious Latest
Cecils, as the surly Middle Cecils
waxed nostalgic for the Early Cecils
and the Ancient Cecils—all things Cecil.

In the Nineties the Later Cecils had
midlife crises, purchased Porsches, divorced
the Mrs. Later Cecils, quit drinking
long enough to chaperone the teenage
Latest Cecils to the Stones reunion
tour in Madison Square Garden. Stating
that the Middle Cecils’ taste in music
put the fritz on such father-son bonding,
the Later Cecils screamed, “I can’t get no
satisfaction!” to their sons’ great dismay.

In the early Twenty-First Century
the Later Cecils, now silver Cecils,
putter about the house in house slippers,
sipping soda water with twists of lime.
They insist to the Latest Cecils, who
visit most Sundays with their girlfriends
the soon-to-be Mrs. Latest Cecils,
that posterity will one day agree
the Later Cecils were the greatest Cecils.

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