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The perfect birthday poem for an adolescent girl.
August 16, 2012 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Help! Looking for a poem to include in a birthday card to my daughter who turns 13 tomorrow.

I've been looking through my favorite poems and I don't see any that a girl entering her teen years would identify with. I'd like a poem that conveys the reality and challenges of entering adolescence with hopes of continued independence, strength and creativity.

Bonus points if you can suggest any from my favorite poets - Stevens, Brodsky, Montale, Paz, Neruda, Milosz, William Carlos Wiliams.
posted by incandissonance to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"Oh they places you'll go" Dr Suess? One of my favorites.
posted by AbsolutelyHonest at 11:28 AM on August 16, 2012


One of my favorite poems- Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman by Anne Sexton.
posted by jaksemas at 11:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is actually quite difficult.

What about:

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
posted by Laura_J at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2012


Or this maybe - but its more about the parents than the child

How You Know - Joe Mills

How do you know if it’s love? she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.
posted by Laura_J at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tina Fey's "Mother's Prayer for her Daughter"? (after a quick google, I'm not finding a super reliable looking source for that; sorry)

Or otherwise, this is another poem that's probably more for the parent than the child, but I kind of love it:

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

Robert Hershon

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand
posted by Vibrissa at 3:11 PM on August 16, 2012


Richard Wilbur's The Writer wishes good luck to a daughter in "bearing a smooth course for the right window / And clearing the sill of the world". It might work well if she likes to read or write.
posted by spaet at 3:16 PM on August 16, 2012


We've never directly discussed it, but I've always felt that my father's love for this John Berryman poem had a lot to do with the way he felt about me and my sister as his daughters (and about himself as our father, when we were teenagers). It's a poem that means a lot to me, even more now that I'm older. Maybe it will resonate with you and your daughter, too.
posted by bubukaba at 3:44 PM on August 16, 2012


Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

I loved this poem (and the anthology by the same name) as a young teen.
posted by Night_owl at 7:59 PM on August 16, 2012


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