my filial piety needs reinforcement
July 1, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

My dad's birthday is on Monday and I'd like to send him a poem that would be appropriate...

All I have for him at the moment (being completely broke as I am) is a drawing I made which I think he'll like. I'd like to send it to him along with some sort of poem or something that would somehow address the topic of getting older (granted he's only turning 51, so it shouldn't be too morbid). I know I could just write a little letter about how much he means to me etc but we're not really that kind of a family; I'd rather introduce him to a poem that he would like and appreciate. He really likes the poetry of Charles Bukowski and Leonard Cohen, so anything in a similar style would probably work. Or if you know of something that seems totally different but has the same underlying feel, that would work too...
thanks all
posted by Oobidaius to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Some suggestions here from the American Academy of Poets.
posted by extrabox at 3:38 PM on July 1, 2006

When You are Old

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled 10
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
William Yeats

I know it's to a woman but one of my favourite poems on again.

But really, do you want to be addressing the topic of aging? I recall Paul McCartney thought himself a pompous git later in life for writing the "will you still love me, when I'm 64" thing.

Here's another option, to look for Shakespearian quotes on the topic.
posted by b33j at 3:53 PM on July 1, 2006

I don't want the emphasis to be on aging, per se, but I also would imagine that most poems about birthdays are likely to include it. I mostly just meant that I wouldn't be averse to bringing it up.
posted by Oobidaius at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2006


I will walk down to a marina
on a hot day and not go out to sea.

I will go to bed and get up early,
and carry too much cash in my wallet.

On Memorial Day I will visit the graves
of all those who died in my novels.

If I have become famous I'll wear a green janitor's suit and row a wooden boat.

From a key ring on my belt will hang
thirty-three keys that open no doors.

Perhaps I'll take all of my grandchildren to Disneyland in a camper but probably not.

One day standing in a river with my fly rod I'll have the courage to admit my life.

In a one-room cabin at night I'll consign photos, all tentative memories to the fire.

And you my loves, few as there have been, let's lie and say it could never have been otherwise.

So that: we may glide off in peace, not howling like orphans in this endless century of war.

Jim Harrison

Copyright 1998 by Jim Harrison, from "The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems," published by Copper Canyon Press (
posted by GaelFC at 4:12 PM on July 1, 2006

Without necessarily writing a "how much you mean to me" letter, I'm sure a letter describing two or three of your favourite memories of your Dad would be immensely appreciated. They don't have to be terribly touchy-feely.
posted by YamwotIam at 5:53 PM on July 1, 2006

how 'bout this:


Light still glowing though the iced-over window, city
silence and glow. Ice on Harbor Street.

Twin points of light in darkened harbor.
Winter slumber. Lone tree. Shadow on empty beach.
Piece of ice. Daughter of an Elf.
"Clouds afloat in Winter."

Red dots. Circular movement. Common life joined to emotion.
Groaning roof sighed in sleep.

He wraps her hair around his wrist a cloud human hair
smothering the universe in a mist dogs bark inside it.

in their sleep.

"yesterday" by Barbara Guest from MINIATURES and OTHER POEMS.
posted by apostrophe at 7:27 PM on July 1, 2006

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