Quotes or poems for a soon-to-be mother?
May 7, 2008 9:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for quotes or a short poem for my sister, whose expecting her first child in the next several days. Any ideas?
posted by phr4gmonk3y to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oooo me too! If she is feeling anything like me this might be appropriate:

"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" - (Shakespeare - MacBeth: Act V, Scene I).
posted by gomichild at 10:41 PM on May 7, 2008

Amiri Baraka's Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note.
posted by stresstwig at 11:45 PM on May 7, 2008

Words to a Mother -- Phyllis Zuccarello

Mother, listen to your child when he speaks.
This shows he is in need
Of an open ear and an open mind;
Of a mother, who will lead.

Pay attention to what he is saying.
His words are important, too.
Especially when he's trying so hard
To explain something to you.

This will give him confidence
To get him through those years.
To get him through those challenges
and ... through those fears.

Know that a child can also be
A very good friend.
When you need him the most, he too,
Will be there in the end.
posted by netbros at 12:06 AM on May 8, 2008

Infant Sorrow by Blake:

My mother groaned, my father wept:
Into the dangerous world I leapt,
Helpless, naked, piping loud,
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my father's hands,
Striving against my swaddling bands,
Bound and weary, I thought best
To sulk upon my mother's breast.

I had it on my mind all the time I was in labour - it helped a bit. :-)

I like this one from Blake as well - it sounds pessimistic but I think is ultimately a hopeful poem:

The Angel that presided o'er my birth
Said, "Little creature, form'd of Joy and Mirth,
"Go love without the help of any Thing on Earth."

Also this lovely one from Don Paterson, Waking with Russell:

Whatever the difference is, it all began
the day we woke up face-to-face like lovers
and his four-day-old smile dawned on him again,
possessed him, till it would not fall or waver;
and I pitched back not my old hard-pressed grin
but his own smile, or one I'd rediscovered.
Dear son, I was mezzo del cammin
and the true path was as lost to me as ever
when you cut in front and lit it as you ran.
See how the true gift never leaves the giver:
returned and redelivered, it rolled on
until the smile poured through us like a river.
How fine, I thought, this waking amongst men!
I kissed your mouth and pledged myself forever.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:35 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Depending on the gender of the little one, Yeats' "A Prayer for my Daughter" might be appropriate. It's not particularly short, though. I studied on it a lot in the weeks before and after my daughter was born. I don't know how much it helped my wife, though. It's a great poem, and should generally just be read because it's beautiful and heartfelt and a little sad.
posted by Shohn at 5:47 AM on May 8, 2008

If the baby is late, perhaps the poem "To a Ten Month's Child" by Donald Justice:

Late arrival, no
One would think of blaming you
For hesitating so.

Who, setting his hand to knock
At a door so strange as this one,
Might not draw back?
posted by barchan at 6:41 AM on May 8, 2008

Two of my favorite Sylvia Plath poems on pregnancy and childbirth:

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.
Morning Song

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 distills 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.
posted by kwaller at 6:57 AM on May 8, 2008

Sharon Olds has a great poem about childbirth called "First Birth."
Here is a sampling:

"Each thing
I did, then, I did for the first
time, touched the flesh of our flesh,
brought the tiny mouth to my breast,
he drew the avalanche of milk
down off the mountain, I felt as if
I was nothing, no one, I was everything to him, I was his."
posted by mattbucher at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2008

Larkin's "Born Yesterday"?

Born Yesterday
for Sally Amis

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you're a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn't, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.
posted by paduasoy at 10:28 AM on May 8, 2008

My mother's favorite poem is As in the Days of the Prophets by Christopher Jane Corkery. It might work.
posted by bubukaba at 1:57 PM on May 8, 2008

OK, apparently this is from "Sex and the City" (!), but:

We had you, and then we had everything.
posted by GaelFC at 7:04 PM on May 20, 2008

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