Any suggestions of poems appropriate to share with a woman who is just about to have, or has just had, a baby?
Would any of these be useful?
What Did I Do Today? Anon
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before
Are staring at me from the floor.
the fingerprints there on the wall
Will likely be there still next fall.
the dirty streaks on those windowpanes
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?
I held a baby till she slept
I held a toddler while he wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that's true.
Unless you think that what I've done,
might be important to someone
with deep green eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true....I've done my share.
What A Baby Costs by Edgar A Guest
"How much do babies cost?" said he
The other night upon my knee;
And then I said: "They cost a lot;
A lot of watching by a cot,
A lot of sleepless hours and care,
A lot of heart-ache and despair,
A lot of fear and trying dread,
And sometimes many tears are shed
In payment for our babies small,
But every one is worth it all.
"For babies people have to pay
A heavy price from day to day --
There is no way to get one cheap.
Why, sometimes when they're fast asleep
You have to get up in the night
And go and see that they're all right.
But what they cost in constant care
And worry, does not half compare
With what they bring of joy and bliss --
You'd pay much more for just a kiss.
"Who buys a baby has to pay
A portion of the bill each day;
He has to give his time and thought
Unto the little one he's bought.
He has to stand a lot of pain
Inside his heart and not complain;
And pay with lonely days and sad
For all the happy hours he's had.
His smile is worth it all, you bet."
A PARENTAL ODE TO MY SON
AGED THREE YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS by Thomas Hood
Thou happy, happy elf!
(But stop-first let me kiss away that tear),
Thou tiny image of myself!
(My love, he's poking peas into his ear)
Thou merry laughing sprite!
With spirits feather-light,
Untouched by sorrow and unsoiled by sin-
(Good heavens! the child is swallowing a pin!)
Thou tricksy Puck!
With antic toys so funnily bestuck,
Light as the singing-bird that wings the air
(The door! the door! he'll tumble down the stair!)
Thou darling of thy sire!
(Why, Jane, he'll set his pinafore on fire)
Thou imp of mirth and joy,
In Love's dear chain so strong and bright a link,
Thou idol of thy parents - (drat the boy!
There goes my ink!)
Thou cherub!-but of earth,
Fit playfellow for Fays by moonlight pale,
In harmless sport and mirth,
(That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail)
Thou human honey-bee, extracting honey
From every blossom in the world that blows,
Singing in youth's Elysium ever sunny-
(Another tumble!-that's his precious nose!)
Thy father's pride and hope
(He'll break the mirror with that skipping-rope!)
With pure heart newly stamped from Nature's mint
(Where did he learn that squint?)
Thou young domestic dove!
(He'll have that jug off with another shove!)
Dear nursling of the hymeneal nest!
(Are those torn clothes his best?)
Little epitome of man!
(He'll climb upon the table, that's his plan!)
Touched with the beauteous trials of dawning life-
(He's got a knife!)
Thou enviable being!
No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,
Play on, play on,
My elfin John!
Toss the light ball-bestride the stick,
(I knew so many cakes would make him sick!)
With fancies buoyant as the thistle-down,
Prompting the face grotesque, and antic brisk,
With many a lamblike frisk-
(He's got the scissors, snipping at your gown!)
Thou pretty opening rose!
(Go to your mother, child, and wipe your nose!)
Balmy and breathing music like the south,
(He really brings my heart into my mouth!)
Fresh as the morn, and brilliant as its star,
(I wish that window had an iron bar!)
Bold as the hawk, yet gentle as the dove-
(I'll tell you what, my love,
I cannot write unless he's sent above.)
IMPERIOUS WOOL-BOOTED SAGE by Rudyard Kipling
Imperious wool-booted sage
Tho' your years as men reckon are Three
You are wiser than ten times your age,
And your faithfullest servants are we.
Oh fluffy Philosopher small
You can't real our rhymes it is true,
For dinner and play is your All
And Creation is - you!
You cry for the moon - and you get it!
You laugh and our spirits have mirth,
And the least of your orders we set it
O'er everything else upon earth.
We know we are older - we may be
More wise than yourself, O my sweet
But today you are Queen of us Baby
And we come with our gifts at your feet.
A couple more suggestions:
Woman to Child
You who were darkness warmed my flesh
where out of darkness rose the seed.
Then all a world I made in me;
all the world you hear and see
hung upon my dreaming blood.
There moved the multitudinous stars,
and coloured birds and fishes moved.
There swam the sliding continents.
All time lay rolled in me, and sense,
and love that knew not its beloved.
O node and focus of the world;
I hold you deep within that well
you shall escape and not escape-
that mirrors still your sleeping shape;
that nurtures still your crescent cell.
I wither and you break from me;
yet though you dance in living light
I am the earth, I am the root,
I am the stem that fed the fruit,
the link that joins you to the night.
Sleep Close to Me
Fold of my flesh
I carried in my womb,
tender trembling flesh
sleep close to me.
The partridge sleeps in the wheat
listening to its heartbeat.
Let not my breath disturb you
sleep close to me.
Little tender grass
afraid to live,
don't move from my arms;
sleep close to me.
I have lost everything,
and tremble until I sleep.
Don't move from my breast;
sleep close to me.
Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957 Chile)
For Before and After
A lust, a tryst, a baby.
You the father ? Well, maybe.
What'd you say, another kid ?
Oh Lord, Oh God, please forbid.
A girl, a guy, a marriage.
Then hope for a miscarriage.
It's love, it's passion, it's lust.
Well, go ahead, if you must.
Get in line, don't shove.
A bottle, a cork, some wine.
After three glasses, she'll be mine.
Three months already.
Then, it must have been Freddy.
Western Union telegrams from the wife in the clinic to absent father.
1. She's a baby girl, honey.
Send no flowers, only money.
2. She's alive and kicking
And for milk she hollers.
To keep us quiet, send more dollars.
3. It's a girl, not a boy instead.
To pay the doctor, need more bread.
4. She's alive and kicking,
So, let's have a bash.
Send some wine,
And a lot of cash.
5. She's alive, but really sucks.
Send no advice, only bucks.
In Tel Aviv
6. Sammy has your nose and freckles.
Ain't his fault, some more shekels.
7. I looked around,
It was she that smelled.
To buy more diapers,
Need more geld.
8. Every day, milk and juice.
To make ends meet, send more flous.
In the Holy City
9. Planning on a circumcision.
Do you agree, with all your wisdom ?
How to cut ? On a bias ?
Or better still, like old Pope Pius.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
"Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
from THE PROPHET
by Kahlil Gibran
Unfortunately I don't have a copy, but "Back to Work" by Sally Emerson is lovely for a baby girl - the only lines I've got are
"...my darling girl
Sleep and smiles and laughs, her face
So full of curiosity and magic
That I know the world was
Made in her honor.
She looks around her and as she looks
She renews all she sees.
The leaves rustle excitedly,
The curtains dance by the window,
The shadow moves beside her as
She turns and she turns and she turns,
Taking it all in."
Maybe I should put this on Lost Quotations to see if anyone knows the beginning!
"To My Daughter"
Bright clasp of her whole hand around my finger
My daughter, as we walk together now.
All my life I'll feel a ring invisibly
Circle this bone with shining: when she is grown
Far from today as her eyes are far already.
and "Song for a fifth child," Ruth Hulburt Hamilton:
Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep.
Thank you all! What a great range. I have one more to add:
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
- Sylvia Plath
At six weeks, Baby grinned a grin
That spread from mouth to eyes to chin,
And Doc, that smartie, had the brass,
To tell me it was only gas!
- Margaret Fishback
I saved these two, when I was pregnant,
and I still love them as much as I did then :
What is a girl?
Little girls are the nicest things that happen to people. They are born with a bit of angelshine about them, and though it wears thin sometimes, there is always enough left to lasso your heart, even when they are sitting in the mud, or crying temperamental tears, or parading up the street in Mother's best clothes.
A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, then just when you open your mouth, she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes.
A girl is innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.
Girls are available in five colors; black, white, red, yellow, or brown, yet Mother Nature always manages
to select your favorite color when you place your order. They disprove the law of supply and demand- There are millions of little girls, but each is a precious as rubies.
God borrows from many creatures to make a little girl. He uses the song of a bird, the squeal of a pig, the stubbornness of a mule, the antics of a monkey, the spryness of a grasshopper, the curiosity of a cat, the speed of a gazelle, the slyness of a fox, the softness
of a kitten, and to top it all off, He adds the mysterious mind of a woman.
A little girl likes new shoes, party dresses, small animals, first grade, noise makers, the girl nest door, dolls, make-believe, dancing lessons, ice cream, kitchens, coloring books, make-up, cans of water, going visiting, tea
parties and one boy.
She doesn't care much for visitors, boys in general, large dogs, hand-me-downs, straight chairs, vegetables, snow suits, or staying in the front yard.
She is loudest when you are thinking, the prettiest when she has provoked you, the busiest at bed time, the quietest when you want to show her off and the most flirtatious when she absolutely must not get the
best of you again.
Who else can cause you more grief, joy, irritation, satisfaction, embarrassment, and genuine delight than this combination of Eve, Salome, and Florence Nightingale?
She can muss up your hair, your home, and your dignity, spend your money, your time, and your temper, then just when your patience is ready to crack, her sunshine peeks through, and you've lost again.
Yes, she is a nerve-wracking nuisance, just a noisy bundle of mischief but just when your patience is ready to crack, her sunshine peeks through and you've lost again.
Yes, she is a nerve-wracking nuisance- just a noisy bundle of mischief, but when your dreams tumble down, when your world is a mess, when it seems you are pretty much of a fool after all, she can make you a king when she climbs on your knee and whispers "I love you best of all"
What Is A Boy?
Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood we find a delightful creature called a boy. Boys come in assorted sizes, weights, and colors, but all boys have the same creed: to enjoy every second of every minute of every hour of every day and to protest with
noise (their only weapon) when their last minute is
finished and the adult males pack them off to bed at night.
Boys are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath,
inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around, or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them,
older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them, and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair, and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.
When you are busy, a boy is an inconsiderate, bothersome, intruding jangle of noise. When you want him to make a good impression, his brain turns to jelly or else he becomes a savage, sadistic, jungle creature bent on destroying the world and himself with it.
A boy is a composite -- he has the appetite of a horse,
the digestion of a sword-swallower, the energy of a pocket-sized atomic bomb, the curiosity of a cat, the lungs of a dictator, the imagination of a Paul Bunyan, the shyness of a violet, the audacity of a steel trap, the enthusiasm of a firecracker, and when he makes something, he has five thumbs on each hand.
He likes ice cream, knives, saws, Christmas, comic books, the boy across the street, woods, water (in its natural habitat), large animals, Dad, trains, Saturday mornings,
and fire engines. He is not much for Sunday School, company, schools, books without pictures, music lessons, neckties, barbers, girls, overcoats, adults, or bedtime.
Nobody else is so early to rise, or so late to supper. Nobody else gets so much fun out of trees, dogs, and breezes. Nobody else can cram into one pocket a rusty knife, a
half-eaten apple, three feet of string, an empty Bull Durham sack, two gum drops, six cents, a slingshot, a chunk of unknown substance, and a genuine supersonic code ring with a secret compartment.
A boy is a magical creature. You can lock him out of your workshop, but you can't lock him out of your heart. You can get him out of your study, but you can't get him out
of your mind. Might as well give up, he is your captor, your jailer, your boss, and your master. A freckled-faced, pint-sized, cat-chasing, bundle of noise. But when you come home at night with only shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams, he can mend them like new with two magic words,
First Child ... Second Child
Be it a girl, or one of the boys,
It is scarlet all over its avoirdupois,
It is red, it is boiled; could the obstetrician
Have possibly been a lobstertrician?
His degrees and credentials were hunky-dory,
But how's for an infantile inventory?
Here's the prodigy, here's the miracle!
Whether its head is oval or spherical,
You rejoice to find it has only one,
Having dreaded a two-headed daughter or son;
Here's the phenomenon all complete,
It's got two hands, it's got two feet,
Only natural, but pleasing, because
For months you have dreamed of flippers or claws.
Furthermore, it is fully equipped:
Fingers and toes with nails are tipped;
It's even got eyes, and a mouth clear cut;
When the mouth comes open the eyes go shut,
When the eyes go shut, the breath is loosed
And the presence of lungs can be deduced.
Let the rockets flash and the cannon thunder,
This child is a marvel, a matchless wonder.
A staggering child, a child astounding,
Dazzling, diaperless, dumbfounding,
Stupendous, miraculous, unsurpassed,
A child to stagger and flabbergast,
Bright as a button, sharp as a thorn,
And the only perfect one ever born.
Arrived this evening at half-past nine.
Everybody is doing fine.
Is it a boy, or quite the reverse?
You can call in the morning and ask the nurse.
Here's another old one.
George Macdonald (1824–1905)
WHERE did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.
Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand strok’d it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.
Whence that three-corner’d smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.
Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.
Since you know the poet's name (Sally Emerson) and part of the poem, I don't think you'll need to consider "Back to Work" as LOST.
It may be in "The Nursery Treasury" by Sally Emerson, et al., which is available on Amazon. There's a description of it at
Of course, there may be more than one Sally Emerson. If so, one of them was Douglas Adams's girlfriend. A fan site offers this info:
==The third book "Life, the Universe and Everything" finds Arthur and Ford still on the earth several years later, only to be rescued by a temporal anomaly in the shape of a Chesterfield sofa which takes them to Lord's Cricket Ground on the Tuesday before the Vogon's initially destroyed the earth. The concept for this book about the planet jealous about the rest of the Universe came from Douglas’s girlfriend at the time, fellow author Sally Emerson, to whom this book is dedicated.==http://cgi.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A782822
There's a link for discussion on this site, and perhaps one of the discussants could help you identify THE Sally Emerson (I mean, the other one...)
Vogon stuff, huh? We need Chesil down here quick, since his favourite poet (he says) is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. Live that one down, ches baby!
Thanks, Marian-NYC, I'll look into it!