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20 Father’s Day Poems That Will Make Dad Feel Loved and Appreciated

Updated: Jun. 21, 2023

If you want to express your appreciation for your dad or another father figure in your life, we've got you covered with these moving Father's Day poems

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Send a Father’s Day poem to Dad

If you’ve remembered to ask yourself, “When is Father’s Day?” then you’ve done half the work of showing your dad appreciation on this special day. We’ve done the other half by collecting the best poems to put your feelings into words. The poems collected here range from funny to philosophical to serious and include unforgettable dad stories and inspirational poems. A Father’s Day poem is an easy but impactful way to let your dad know just how much he means to you. If you want to take it up a notch, try our Father’s Day gifts and Father’s Day activity ideas.

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1. “A Man” by Jean Star Untermeyer

Often, when I would sit, a dreamy, straight-haired child,
A book held gaping on my knee,
Watering a sterile romance with my thoughts,
You would come bounding to the curb
And startle me to life.
You sat so straight upon your vibrant horse
That lovely horse, all silken fire and angry grace
And yet you seemed so merged in him,
So like! At least my thoughts
Gave you a measure of that wildness.
And oh, for many years you seemed to me
Something to marvel at and yet to fear.

But now I know that you resemble most
That growth in nature that you most revere.
You are so like, so very like, a tree
Grown straight and strong and beautiful
With many leaves.
The years but add in richness to your boughs,
You make a noble pattern on the sky.
About your rugged trunk
Vines creep and lichens cling,
And children play at tag.
Upon your branches some will hang their load
And rest and cool while you must brave the sun.
But you put forth new life with every year,
And tower nearer to the clouds
And never bend or grow awry.

I wonder what sweet water bathes your roots,
And if you gain your substance from the earth;
Or if you have a treaty with the sun,
Or keep some ancient promise with the heavens.

This Father’s Day poem, published in Jean Star Untermeyer’s 1918 poetry collection, Growing Pains, celebrates the change in perspective we have of our fathers from childhood to adulthood. As a child, Untermeyer saw her father as large and powerful, but as time went on, she became most impressed by his gentleness. For more inspiration about the relationship between father and daughter, try these father-daughter quotes.

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2. “My Father” by Eduardo Moga

My father underlined and annotated books in biro. I often tasked him with this barbarous practice. To this day I still discover his scribbled traces in books I would never have suspected him of reading. I like finding them.

My father went and stood by the wall and yelled, like an Argentinean commentator, ‘goal, goal, goal, goal, goal, gooooooooooal!’ each of the five times Barҫa scored against Madrid at the Bernabéu. The neighbours were from Soria and Madrid fans and he didn’t want to waste such a rare opportunity to torment them.

My father never had a car. He said a car cost more than a foolish son. But he loved it when I drove him places.

My father and I used to read poems aloud from The Thousand Best Poems in Spanish, in an edition which had lost its cover and my father had wrapped in oil-stained newsprint. We laughed till we cried at “The Banquet” by Baltasar de Alcázar and “How Times Change” by Vital Aza. We also liked “Despair” attributed to Espronceda.

My father told me ‘You have to be the best, always the best’ and ‘If you fall down, pick yourself up; if you fall down again, pick yourself up again’. Then he rearranged his underpants and went back to his game of patience.

My father carried me to A&E in his arms when I split my lip on the handlebars of my scooter. I bled and bled; he ran and ran.

My father’s name was Abel.

Translated by Terence Dooley

These excerpts from a book-long poem by contemporary Spanish poet and translator Eduardo Moga portray his late father with devastating honesty, tenderness and humor. Together, the short sections form a multidimensional mosaic that both celebrates the moments of connection in their relationship and courageously faces its silences. For more perspectives on the relationship between father and son, try these father-son quotes.

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3. “Content” by Charles Fred White

Toiling, toiling all day long
With his will and might,
Humming tune, or whistling song
From the morn till night:
Ever happy at his work,
Ever gay and free,
Never does he duty shirk,
But content is he.
Cheerful is his little home,
Though of meagre size,
Ne’er he cares from it to roam,
There his treasure lies,
There his heart’s delight is found,
There his joy and pride,
With his children playing ’round,
Sweet wife by his side.
Early does he rise at morn,
To his work he goes
His day’s duty to perform
Without pain or woes.
Fully well is he aware
Of his family’s needs,
Amply does he store prepare,
And. always succeeds.
Thus, the happy father lives
For his children’s sake;
Thus, to them example gives
Of which they partake.

Charles Fred White, born in Tennessee in 1876 to parents who had been enslaved, notably used his poetry to call attention to the mistreatment of Black soldiers who’d returned home from the Spanish-American War. White himself served in Cuba and as a veteran faced the injustice of being expelled from his school at the behest of his white fellow students. This poem is not about soldiers but rather calls attention to the everyday heroics of being a father. And since 1908, when the poem was published, not much seems to have changed—parents still work hard. For more on the virtues of dads, try these Father’s Day quotes.

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4. “To Her Father with Some Verses” by Anne Bradstreet

Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.

Anne Bradstreet was a 17th-century English poet who immigrated to North America in 1630. She never went to school but became extremely well educated, thanks in great part to her father, who passed on to her his love of reading. Maybe that is what Bradstreet refers to in this Father’s Day poem when she talks about feeling pressure to make good on her father’s generous investment. So far, Bradstreet has indeed “yield[ed] a greater sum” on her father’s principal: Her poetry was well regarded in her time and is still celebrated to this day. If you want other ways to show your appreciation for your dad, try these Father’s Day messages.

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5. “Like My Dad” by Douglas Malloch

Lord, make me something like my dad;
Give me a little of his will,
That good old stubbornness he had
That helped him up the hardest hill,
content to wait and work and fight,
believe always he was right.

If your dad has a sense of humor, this might be the Father’s Day poem for him. It finds the perfect balance between admiration and good-natured teasing. For more humorous ways to celebrate his special day, take a look at these funny Father’s Day quotes.

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6. “To My Father on His Birthday” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Amidst the days of pleasant mirth,
That throw their halo round our earth;
Amidst the tender thoughts that rise
To call bright tears to happy eyes;
Amidst the silken words that move
To syllable the names we love;
There glides no day of gentle bliss
More soothing to the heart than this!
No thoughts of fondness e’er appear
More fond, than those I write of here!
No name can e’er on tablet shine,
My father! more beloved than thine!
‘Tis sweet, adown the shady past,
A lingering look of love to cast—
Back th’ enchanted world to call,
That beamed around us first of all;
And walk with Memory fondly o’er
The paths where Hope had been before—
Sweet to receive the sylphic sound
That breathes in tenderness around,
Repeating to the listening ear
The names that made our childhood dear—
For parted Joy, like Echo, kind,
Will leave her dulcet voice behind,
To tell, amidst the magic air,
How oft she smiled and lingered there.

Written for a birthday celebration but well worth its place on this list of Father’s Day poems, “To My Father on His Birthday” is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s celebration of the atmosphere of joy and magic her father created in her childhood years. Perhaps that’s because Barrett Browning’s dad was her first fan: When she wrote a short poem at age 4, he paid her a small sum and crowned her with the title of poet laureate. Barrett Browning is better known for her romantic poems, so if you’d like to read more of her work try these love poems for him.

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7. “To Father” by Mary Eliza Perine Tucker

MY father! when I saw thee last,
Thy noble, manly form,
Was unbent by the cares of time–
Unshattered by life’s storm.

The raven hair around thy brow
Was scarcely tinged with gray–
While the bright lustre of thine eye
Denied old age’s away.

Oft in my dreams I see thy face,
As ’twas when last we met;
If we should never meet again,
Thy smile I’ll ne’er forget.

My father, years have passed since then;
Aye, stern, heart-breaking years;
And we have each been made to feel
Life’s sorrows, and life’s tears.

Now, I am in my womanhood–
They say, life’s glorious page;
And, father, I regret to think,
That you have reached old age.

Grieve not, grieve not, for broken buds,
They’ll open in the sky;
In bower of celestial light,
They’ll bloom, and never die.

Dear father, thou hast ever been
To me, thy orphan child,
A father and a mother too,
Kind, thoughtful, just and mild.

Then grant me, father, but this boon,
Then will thy child be blest–
Let me watch o’er thy latest years,
And lay thee down to rest.

Mary Tucker’s mother died when Mary was born in 1838, so she was raised by her father and grew up to be a poet and journalist. Apparently, he did a phenomenal job as a single father, because this touching Father’s Day poem overflows with gratitude for him. For another way to show your appreciation for your dad, create one of these printable Father’s Day cards.

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8. From “My Father” by Ann Taylor

Who took me from my mother’s arms,
And smiling at her soft alarms,
Showed me the world and nature’s charms?
My Father.

Who as we grew up day by day
Would teach his children’s minds to stray
Along fair learning’s flowery way?
My Father.

Who was it took such great delight
To show us how to act aright,
Nor, like the idle, scratch and fight?
My Father.

Who from each flower and verdant stalk,
Gathered a honeyed store of talk,
To cheer the long, delightful walk?
My Father.

Not on an insect would he tread,
Or crush the snail or beetle dead;
Who taught at once my heart and head?
My Father.

Who climbed with me the mountain’s height,
And watched my look of dread delight
While rose the glorious orb of Light!
My Father.

And when my kite I wished to try,
Who held the string to make it fly,
While pleasure sparkled in my eye?
My Father.

These excerpts from a 19th-century book by Ann Taylor—accompanied by charming illustrations—portray her father as a benevolent leader and guide. Whether she’s climbing a mountain, flying a kite or doing homework, her father is there to support her and teach her with humor and gentleness. If you want to make your dad laugh with what one might call a modern-day take on the illustrated poem, try a Father’s Day meme.

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9. “The Way of a Man” by Lois Halderman

That paper that my dad received
Three years ago today,
Somebody run and get it quick;
He wants it right away.
So mother looks through boxes old,
We keep beneath the stair;
And I ransack the cabinet,
But the paper isn’t there.

Dad scolds the entire household;
From the guiltless butler down.
And says that all the worthless stuff,
Is just left lying round;
But everything that’s valuable,
Despite the final cost,
Is stuck where it can not be found,
If neither burned nor lost.

And so Dad keeps complaining,
Until mother starts to sing,
And then he frowns in silent rage,
And doesn’t say a thing.
The house looks like a hurricane;
Then in a fit of gloom
Small Jimmie grabs his ball and bat,
And races from the room.

And mother thinks the paper’s lost;
And sister knows it’s gone;
And Dad is tired of thinking
So he scowls and just looks on.
Then mother makes a final search,
Through Father’s private shelf,
And, there it is. He recollects,
He put it there himself.

If you want a Father’s Day poem that will make your dad—and the rest of the family—laugh with recognition, try this gently mocking poem. It was published in 1920, so apparently the phenomenon of dads forgetting where they put things and blaming the whole family has been around for a while. If you chuckled at that one, we have more funny poems for you.

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10. “My Father” by Virginia Moore

Was it a constancy of wind that kept
His honor clean ? A wind that sweeps one spot
Reduces excess ego to a dot
That isn’t there; it says to all except
The babblers and the flagrantly inept
“Honor’s the thing !—when honor is forgot
A man is ready to die and ready to rot !”
My father was a man the winds had swept.

His business was not law, as some suppose,
Who think a soul is made of molecules;
His business was constructing, day by day,
An immortality—for there are those
Who build it tile on tile, and there are fools
Who strenuously piddle it away !

Virginia Moore’s “My Father” brims with admiration for her dad, a hard worker who valued honor and integrity above all else. Moore published this poem when she was just 23. To read more work by an extremely young poet, try these Amanda Gorman poems by the National Youth Poet Laureate.

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11. “To My Father” by Fenton Johnson

Good Father o’ the Dusk, my love for thee
Is boundless as the soul’s eternal sea;
Thou wrought for me when I was weak and young,
And guarded me from life’s tempestuous wrong.

Thou art the lamp that safely pilots me
Beyond the crags and shoals of life’s rough sea;
I cannot falter when thou bidst me go
Where moonlit waters to the ocean flow.

Let others boast of gold and mansions grand,
No father lives throughout this Western land
So good, so true, so brave of heart as thee,
My mariner across the starlit sea.

Fenton Johnson, a highly educated journalist, is considered a precursor of the Harlem Renaissance, the surge in Black American culture that took place in the 1920s. Throughout the 1915 collection in which this poem appears, Johnson uses “dusk” as a poetic signifier for Black people and culture. The arresting image of the father as first a protector and then a guiding light is still powerful to this day. If you’re looking for more Black poets, our roundup is a good place to start.

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12. “Only a Dad” by Edgar Albert Guest

Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

This classic Father’s Day poem, published in 1916, celebrates the hard work of being a father who “gives his all.” It might be the perfect ode to honor your own dad’s hard work.

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13. From “Rugby Chapel” by Matthew Arnold

But thou woulds’t not alone
Be saved, my father! alone
Conquer and come to thy goal,
Leaving the rest in the wild.
We were weary, and we
Fearful, and we in our march
Fain to drop down and to die.
Still thou turnedst, and still
Beckonedst the trembler, and still
Gavest the weary thy hand.

If, in the paths of the world,
Stones might have wounded thy feet,
Toil or dejection have tried
Thy spirit, of that we saw
Nothing—to us thou wage still
Cheerful, and helpful, and firm!
Therefore to thee it was given
Many to save with thyself;
And, at the end of thy day,
O faithful shepherd! to come,
Bringing thy sheep in thy hand.

This excerpt from a long elegy to the poet’s father highlights how he supported not only his son but a whole community. His father, Dr. Thomas Arnold, was the headmaster of Rugby, an elite private school in England, from 1828 to 1842, and is credited with transforming the nearly 300-year-old school into the paragon of private education in England. Perhaps a bigger accomplishment was staying on good terms with his own son, the poet, while also being his principal. For even more options this Father’s Day, check out these stepdad quotes.

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14. “The Father’s Love” by Mary Eliza Perine Tucker

Far more priceless than the diamonds rare from Golconda’s rich mine;
Far more precious than the laurel wreaths that victor’s brown entwine,
Is the garland that fond memory weaves, and twines about the heart–
For care nor time, nor war nor crime, can make its tints depart.

A mother’s love! most sacred boon to mortals ever given;
‘Tis not of earth; a mother’s love was surely born in heaven!
See with what gentle, tender care her darling child she shields
From harms of life, from every strife this sphere terrestrial yields!

But ah, to me, of all the buds in memory’s garland fair,–
And I have there full many a gem of worth and beauty rare,–
Is remembrance of my Father’s love, that ever shineth bright!
To me, its ray tells of the day that dawns upon the night.

He gave to me a double share,–a Joseph’s sacred part,–
And it twined itself, like ivy-green, about my infant heart.
I have revelled in gay fashion’s throng, have bowed at folly’s shrine,
But I am sure my heart is pure, while Father’s love is mine.

All other love is mockery to this, a Father’s love–
Fit emblem of the strength of His, who dwelleth far above:
More lasting than eternity– more boundless than the sea!
The blessing mine, the ray divine, may Father’s love e’er be.

Here’s a Father’s Day poem for the dad who lights up the lives of his children. Tucker found in her father a source of great inspiration, as can be seen in this second poem praising his abilities as a single parent. The poem uses multiple images to evoke the radiance of her father’s love, a source of eternal brilliance.

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15. “The Bridge Builder” by Anonymous

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

This anonymous poem talks about the often thankless work that fathers do of paving the way for their children, work that they may never see come to fruition. The payoff is knowing that they’ve made the lives of their children easier, even if they don’t get to witness that progress themselves. The same goes for mothers, by the way, making this a good Mother’s Day poetry option as well.

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16. “My Father” by Virginia Moore

Because of him I cannot say this world
Is weary, or a failure, or a fraud,
Or that a lovely vessel must be flawed,
Or that the hopeful mind is not as brave
As any splendid action that we did laud.
Because of him I cannot say the fall
Is sad, or that the winter is too hard,
Or that the spring by transiency is marred,
Or that the summer in its natural fields
Already by the coming frost is scarred.
Because of him whose mind is more my sire
Than body, and whose heart has been my grace,
I cannot say that man, whom years efface,
Is not the strong effacer in the end
Of all that’s selfish, trivial, and base.

If your father helped you find meaning and hope in life, you’re going to want to write this Father’s Day poem in the card you give him. Virginia Moore’s “My Father” speaks of a father who forged in her a strong faith in humankind and an optimist’s ability to see the beauty in all things. She also reminds us that our fathers not only make our existence possible but also leave an important stamp on our mindset and psyche.

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17. “This Light of Seville” by Antonio Machado

This light of Seville… Is the mansion
where I was born, with its rumor of a fountain.
My father, in his study. The high forehead,
The brief goatee, the sleek moustache.

My father, still young. He reads, writes, leafs
through his books and ponders. He rises;
He goes toward the garden door. He strolls,
sometimes talking to himself, sometimes singing.

His large eyes with their restless gaze
now seem to wander, settling on
no object, in empty space.

And now they escape his yesterday to his tomorrow
now they see through time–my father!–
piously, my graying head.

Legendary Spanish poet Antonio Machado time-travels to see his father as a young man in this unforgettable poem. Within a few short lines, Machado has managed to turn the tables on the traditional relationship between father and son, seeing his own father—still young—through the eyes of maturity and age.

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18. “Parenthood” by John Farrar

The birches that dance on the top of the hill
Are so slender and young that they cannot keep still,
They bend and they nod at each whiff of a breeze,
For you see they are still just the children of trees.

But the birches below in the valley are older,
They are calmer and straighter and taller and colder.
Perhaps when we’ve grown up as solemn and grave,
We, too, will have children who do not behave!

If you’re a parent yourself, you’ll relate to John Farrar’s “Parenthood”—as will your dad. This playful yet evocative poem likens generations of people to generations of trees. It also winks at Dad, saying, “Now that I have kids, I understand what you went through.” It’s also a great piece of poetry to give your husband on Father’s Day.

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19. “Book-Lover” by Ralph Bergengren

My Pop is always buying books:
So that Mom says his study looks
Just like an old book store.
The book shelves are so full and tall
They hide the paper on the wall,
And there are books just everywhere,
On table, window seat, and chair,
And books right on the floor.

And every little while he buys
More books, and brings them home and tries
To find a place where they will fit,
And has an awful time of it.

Once when I asked him why he got
So many books, he said, “Why not?”
I’ve puzzled over that a lot.

You might have to replace “books” with your father’s collectible item of choice, but this funny Father’s Day poem has nearly universal appeal. And at least you already know what to give him as a present.

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20. “What My Father Was to Me” by D.G. Bechers

I know just what my father was to me
And is unto this day;
And so unto my boy would I as truly be
And in the selfsame way,
I honored, loved, respected him and he
Gave me his love as pay !
I pass it on unto that boy of mine
And hope and dream and pray
I may so live that he may know the fine
True things of life and may
Honor and love, respect, obey
His father in a better, nobler way
Than I did mine.

This Father’s Day poem is perfect if you’re also a dad. In simple, clear language, it acknowledges the beauty of passing down good parenting, love and kindness from one generation to the next. Who knows, maybe sharing Father’s Day poems can become part of your tradition (that, or singing some sweet Father’s Day songs).