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15 Mother’s Day Poems That Will Melt Her Heart

Don't rack your brain for the right way to tell Mom how much she means to you when you can just borrow wise and wonderful words from great poets.

e.e. cummingsNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock

The Gardener

if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses….
& the whole garden will bow

–e.e. cummings

Does your mother coax beautiful blossoms from a stony patch of soil? Give her the gift of flowery images to tell her how much you appreciate her. Here are Mother’s Day gifts that go beyond flowers.

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The Other Mother

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name

I long have called you—

You who are more than mother unto me.

—Edgar Allen Poe

Though Poe is better known for gloomy tales of horror like “The Tell Tale Heart” or “The Fall of the House of Usher,” he wrote this lovely, touching verse to his mother-in-law. It would work equally well for a beloved stepmother, aunt, or godmother who stands in, crucially, as a mother.

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The Inspiration

My mother would be a falconress,
and I her [falcon] raised at her will,
from her wrist sent flying, as if I were her own
pride, as if her pride
knew no limits, as if her mind
sought in me flight beyond the horizon.
—Robert Duncan

Have your mother’s dreams and ambitions helped shape your path in the world? Tell her so with these sublime lines from a 20th-century California poet.

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The Cook

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses….
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

—Seamus Heaney

Is your mother famous for baking cakes or concocting casseroles? Then remind her of your early cooking lessons with these evocative words from Ireland’s Nobel Prize-winning poet.

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The Mirror

Maybe I am what she always wanted…
maybe I am what she wanted to be….
I lie here now as I once lay
in the crook of her arm, her creature,
and I feel her looking down into me the way
the maker of a sword gazes at his face
in the steel of the blade.

—Sharon Olds

Do strangers guess that she’s your mother when you’re walking down the street together? Are you almost too much alike? Then show her the two of you in these lines from a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Here are 10 surprising facts about Mother’s Day.

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The Grandmothers

My grandmothers were strong.
They followed plows and bent to toil.
They moved through fields sowing seed.
They touched earth and grain grew.
They were full of sturdiness and singing.
My grandmothers were strong.
—Margaret Walker

Maybe you and your mother celebrate your lineage, and the power that runs through you. Or maybe you want to honor the grandmother who raised you. Either way, these compelling images and words from a poet of the Harlem Renaissance will make her smile.


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The Saint

If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

—Rudyard Kipling

Let’s hope you never push her quite as far as this rough and rugged early 20th-century English poet must have done. But isn’t it great to know Mom has your back? And you might as well tell her so! Start by downloading one of these meaningful Mother’s Day cards.

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The Haven

To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name

—Christina Rossetti

Some mothers have a special gift for making all around them feel safe, treasured, and at peace. If you are lucky enough to treasure yours as did this famous Pre-Raphaelite poetess, then share these lines with her. And then enjoy these short, sweet stories about moms that will make you want to call yours right now.

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The Animal Lover

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the strangers in
And bark at friends instead,
And do disgraceful things on rugs,
And track mud on the floor,
And flop upon your bed at night
And snore their doggy snore.
Mother doesn’t want a dog.
She’s making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake.

—Judith Viorst

If your mother’s more apt to appreciate a joke than a sentimental phrase, give her a chuckle with this contemporary American poet’s sly wit. Especially if she put up with all your hamsters, turtles, and strays over the years. And consider sharing these funny mom jokes too.


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The New Mother

Let her have laughter with her little one;
Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing,
Grant her her right to whisper to her son
The foolish names one dare not call a king.

—Dorothy Parker

Are you celebrating your own child’s first foray into motherhood? Then use the uncharacteristically gentle words of this famously witty, acid-tongued writer of the 20th century New York set as she contemplates a young madonna and child.

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The Dandelion Mother

How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems. Like you.

—Jean Nordhaus

Sometimes it’s easy to take a great mother for granted; her everyday stamina and plain good sense make her easy to overlook or underestimate. Let yours know that you see her delicacy and strength at the same time. Looking for more ways to show your mother how much you care? Nine moms reveal their favorite Mother’s Day gifts.

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The Best-Dressed Mother

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.
Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,
they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.

—Judith Kroll

Was your mom a glamour gal? Did she have a vanity table with heavy glass bottles of perfume, shining satin dresses cut on the bias, and little suits? Did you long to accumulate her beautiful things, only to see their magic slip away when you wore them yourself? Remind her of the days when you longed to play dress-up in her closet, and how the memory still makes you feel close.

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Mom’s Mistake

Inside my lunch
to my surprise
a perfect heart-shaped
love note lies….

I take it out
and wonder who
would want to tell me
“I love you.”….

My stomach lurching
in my throat,
I open up
my little note.

Then wham! as if
it were a bomb,
inside it reads,
“I love you—Mom.”

—Ken Nesbitt

Do you and your mother giggle helplessly together over the mishaps of your childhood: the silly arguments with your sister in the car, the baby’s spilled milk at the dinner table, the fumbled ball in the Little League championship, the time your friend’s pants split at the dance? Then this hilarious poem is for you two. These funny mother-child stories will make you feel a bit more normal.

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The Handy Mother

How to describe
that world that mothers spin
and consume and trap

and love us in, that spreads
for years and men and miles?
Those particular hands that could

smooth anything: butter on bread,
cool sheets or weather. It’s
the wonder of them, good or bad,

those mother-hands that pet
and shape and slap,
that sew you together
the pieces of a better house
or life in which you’ll try
to live.

—Erin Belieu

Sometimes it seems that a mother’s hands can do anything: effortlessly create wholesome food, deliciously cool a fevered brow, always making, doing, and working. This contemporary poet captures the warmth and capability of motherhood with her images of maternal handiwork. See more workings of mothers in these best movies to watch on Mother’s Day.

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The Dreamer

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors . . .
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

—Lola Ridge

Did your mother teach you to see the glass half-full? Did her love make even hard times bearable, even beautiful? Then remind her of her gift with these lines from a poet raised in New Zealand and Australia. Here are more great quotes for Mother’s Day.