A Guide to Mother's Day Poems

From left, Robert Louis Stevenson, Diane Wakoski and Rudyard Kipling all wrote poems about mothers and motherhood. . Wikipedia

Mother's Day poems come in all shapes and sizes.

Many address the poets' memories of their mothers. Others describe the poets' gratitude for their mothers. Some are very short. Some are very long. Sometimes the mother-child relationship is complicated and the poet discusses the good times along with the bad. Other times, it's a straightforward message of love and gratitude. If nothing else, the poet almost always acknowledges the significant role a mother plays in the lives of her children.

Needless-to-say, with Mom being portrayed so many different ways in poetry, there are several avenues for approaching a selection of poems appropriate for Mother's Day.

We're here to help you with that. Here's a list of selected works to get you started:

"To My Mother" by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Scottish poet evokes childhood memories in this four-line ode to Mom. It appeared in "A Child's Garden of Verses," a collection of 65 poems by Stevenson first published in 1885 under the title "Penny Whistles."

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.

"Kaddish" by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg, one of the leading voices of the Beat Generation, wrote this lengthy poem following the 1956 death of his mother. It was published as part of a collection, "Kaddish and Other Poems: 1958-1960." Its title refers to the traditional Jewish prayer recited during times of mourning.

"To My Mother" by Christina Rosetti

Rosetti, a 19th century English poet best known for her lengthy poem called "Goblin's Market," wrote this short piece about her mother in 1842:

To-day's your natal day;
Sweet flowers I bring:
Mother, accept, I pray
My offering.

And may you happy live,
And long us bless;
Receiving as you give
Great happiness.

"Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons" by Diane Wakoski

Wakoski, a contemporary poet who counts Allen Ginsberg among her influences, writes of the "beauty that can come from even an ugly past" in this poem that recounts, among other things, the financial struggles her mother accepted in order to make sure she could pay for her child's piano lessons.

"Mother o'Mine" by Rudyard Kipling

The Nobel laureate, who lived from 1865 to 1936, wrote about the undying love of a mother in this 11-line poem:

If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

"Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes

This lesser-known piece by the Harlem Renaissance writer takes the perspective of the mother speaking to her son and telling him that "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair." It can be found in "The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes."

"What I Learned From My Mother" by Julia Kasdorf

Kasdorf is the second contemporary poet on our list. She talks about how her mother taught her to comfort those in mourning, to offer healing and "the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch."