Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This is about a really sweet little book I recently rediscovered - THE BLOOMSBURY BOOK OF MOTHER AND DAUGHTER POEMS. I had first come across it in the British Council Library in Kolkata, when I was a new mother of one. I wanted to share some of the treasures in this book - which actually hold true for any parent-child relationship.
The ancient Greek poetess is simple, wise and oh-so-true:
"I have a small
daughter called
Cleis, who is
like a golden
I wouldn't
take all Croesus'
kingdom, with love
thrown in, for her."
(by Sappho)
Here's a favourite poet, lying beside her new-born baby:
"All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear."
(by Sylvia Plath)
This poem tries to grasp the miracle of birth, of what it does to us...
"Why does a mother need a daughter?....
Nothing's more perfect
Than that bleating, razor-shaped cry
That delivers a mother to her baby....
The child,
tiny and alone, creates the mother."
(by Anne Stevenson)
Here's a half-practical, fully-humorous take on how life changes completely post-baby's arrival:
"A few tips for the first-time mum,
There's great joy, heaven knows,
But some adjustments must be made
When it comes to clothes....
It's time to say goodbye
To linen and to silk
Hello to fabrics that hold their own
With regurgitated milk...."
(by Judy Rose)
Haven't we all felt the sheer heart-tugging strength of this bond?
"Mother, I love you so
Said the child, I love you more than I know.
She laid her head on her mother's arm
And the love between them kept them warm."
(by Stevie Smith)
Here's another perspective (which we often forget) - we are not just mothers, but daughters, too. And we feel the love and thankfulness within us for our own mothers, though we might not always express it.
"You were
water to me
deep and bold and fathoming....
You were
sunrise to me
rise and warm and streaming....
Go to your wide futures, you said."
That's what a being/having a parent is all about, isn't it - caring enough to shelter and daring enough to let go. Poetry says so much in so little.

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