Poetry often focuses on family dynamics and the ways that our families both enrich and challenge our lives. The relationship between fathers and daughters is a particularly common theme in poetry, and poets have covered everything from the love between fathers and daughters to turbulent father-daughter relationships.
Poems From the Point of View of Fathers
Poems from fathers about daughters are often tender and express both sadness and joy. William Butler Yeats' famous poem "A Prayer for My Daughter" expresses Yeats' hopes for his daughter's adult life, while Richard Wilbur's poem "The Writer" expresses his wish that his daughter has "safe passage" through life while acknowledging that she will have to deal with her own difficulties. While both Yeats and Wilbur acknowledge the challenges of having a daughter in a dangerous world, Gregory Orr's poem "Father's Song" expresses the ways that a daughter reminds a father of the need for daring and "risk" in life.
Poems From the Point of View of Daughters
Poems about fathers by daughters often are about a daughter trying to understand her father. Sharon Old's poem "My Father's Diary" determines by the end that the father "wanted someone to know him," while Lynn Emanuel's "Inventing Father In Las Vegas" depicts a daughter trying to piece together her father's past.
Difficult Relationships With Fathers
One of the most famous poems about fathers and daughters is Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy," which depicts a difficult relationship between a daughter and a father who has died. Likewise, Sharon Olds' poem "Beyond Harm" depicts a deeply ambivalent relationship, in which a father and daughter never quite reach an understanding of each other while the father is still alive.
Positive and Humorous Poems
Not all poems about family depict difficult father-daughter relationships. The poem "Fifteen" by Leslie Monsour is a humorous account of a father striking fear into the hearts of teenage boys who visit his daughter. Anne Stevenson's "Elegy" is a celebration of her father's life and love of music.