Looking for Non-sappy poems about grandmothers
February 10, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I have been tasked with reciting a poem at my grandmother's 75th birthday celebration? Any suggestions

I thought about writing one myself, but that is going nowhere. I starting looking for poems written about grandmothers online and all I can find are treacly sweet things or ones focusing on eminent death.

I am looking for suggestions that aren't about death or that speak about the grandmother like she is made of sugar and spice and is soft as dough. My grandmother is none of those things.

Any suggestions for poems that are more like the first stanza of Byron's "She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night":

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

Any help would be appreciated -- thanks.
posted by Julnyes to Writing & Language (10 answers total)
Not a specific offer, but a suggested avenue of research: looking for good poems about parents. I imagine most of the poetry attributed to the strength of parents comments on qualities one also sees and appreciates in grandparents.
posted by WCityMike at 7:25 AM on February 10, 2006

And, along those lines, this might be suitable.
posted by WCityMike at 7:27 AM on February 10, 2006

When night stirred at Sea,
and the fire bought a crowd in,
they say that her beauty was music in mouth.

And few in the candelight
thought her too proud,
for the house of the Planter is known by the trees.

Men that had seen her drank deep and were silent
the women were speaking wherever she went
Like a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly.....

....and Oh!, she was the Sunday in every week!

The Planter's Daughter by Austin Clarke, from memory so do please look it up. My grandmother was the single most important influence in my life and she loved this poem, at the typical family events growing up in Ireland, everyone eventually had to do a song or a poem and I would say this for her.
Enjoy her while you have her, please
posted by Wilder at 7:37 AM on February 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

that is really beautiful wilder, especially the last line.
posted by TheLibrarian at 7:57 AM on February 10, 2006

If she has a sense of humour she might like this one, as long as you made it clear that these are *your* intentions, not that you are talking about her.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railing
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples gardens and learn to spit
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street.
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
posted by Lotto at 7:58 AM on February 10, 2006

Thanks, theLibrarian, I used to wonder if some of the images were too 19thC Ireland for people to get but I've shared it with some friends from other countries and the last line, in particular, is one that seems to be universal across Western friends.
posted by Wilder at 8:01 AM on February 10, 2006

Wilder - that is definitely the direction I would rather go in. Especially since my grandmother has broken a number of men's hearts and certainly raised the green eyed monster in a lot of women's hearts!!

I would love some more suggestions, but I will start to look into poems about parents.
posted by Julnyes at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2006

Wilder is awesome. I was going to suggest something else, but please choose Wilder's, please
posted by matteo at 11:19 AM on February 10, 2006

Jabberwocky, from Alice in Wonderland, because everybody knows it. Be dramatic. Be outrageously dramatic. They'll love it.

" 'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimbal in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves
and the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
the jaws that bite, the claws that catch.
Beware the jubjub bird and shun
the frumious bandersnatch. "

And so on...

Watch out for that bandersnatch.
posted by prcrstn8 at 12:14 PM on February 10, 2006

I think the only people who would enjoy the Jabberwocky would be me and my siblings - I would totally do that for my mom's birthday though.
posted by Julnyes at 2:15 PM on February 10, 2006

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