Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poems for Fathers' Day

It's Fathers' Day today - not as big a commercial event as Mothers' Day but a valiant effort being made by commercial interests to develop it.

Many father and daddy poems have been written, most with some kind of edge to them reflecting the position, status and function demanded by society of fathers certainly in the past. It may be that being cast as the provider, the chastiser, the one who went out to work did not often lend itself to tender memories.

I think of Heaney's surprise in Mid-Term Break at seeing his father crying.
Heaney's father, Patrick, died in 1986 and the collection, Seeing Things, published in 1991, contains many poems for his father including this three line poem entitled 1.1.87

Dangerous pavements.
But I face the ice this year
With my father's stick.

And in his A Call from The Spirit Level where he telephones home and while his mother goes to call in his father the poet imagines what the father has being doing and listens to the hall clocks. The last line sums up so much about father - son relationships:

Next thing he spoke and I nearly said I loved him.

Sylvia Plath's Daddy is a particularly chilling poem especially when you hear her reading it. You can hear it here on YouTube and read it here. Lots of discussion on the poem on the Sylvia Plath forum here. has a selection of poems about fathers for Fathers Day here.
Irish Times Friday article on Father's Day here.

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