Poem for a Daughter

Poem for a Daughter

'I think I'm going to have it,'
I said, joking between pains.
The midwife rolled competent
sleeves over corpulent milky arms.
'Dear, you never have it,
we deliver it.'
A judgement years proved true.
Certainly I've never had you

as you still have me, Caroline.
Why does a mother need a daughter?
Heart's needle, hostage to fortune,
freedom's end. Yet nothing's more perfect
than that bleating, razor-shaped cry
that delivers a mother to her baby.
The bloodcord snaps that held
their sphere together. The child,
tiny and alone, creates the mother.

A woman's life is her own
until it is taken away
by a first particular cry.
Then she is not alone
but part of the premises
of everything there is:
a time, a tribe, a war.
When we belong to the world
we become what we are.


from Poems 1955 - 2005 (Bloodaxe, 2005), copyright © Anne Stevenson 2005, used by permission of the author


Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson Reading from her Poems

1Poem for a Daughter

2The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument

3The Suburb

4The Mother

5The Victory

6By the Boathouse, Oxford



9A Surprise on the First Day of School

10Innocence and Experience

11A Marriage

12Arioso Dolente



15Enough of Green

16In the Tunnel of Summers

17North Sea off Carnoustie

18Still Life in Utah

19If I Could Paint Essences

20The Wind, the Sun and the Moon


22Why Take Against Mythology (1)

23Why Take Against Mythology (2)

24The Writer in the Corner

25The Fiction-Makers

26Small Philosophical Poem

27Willow Song

28Granny Scarecrow

29When the camel is dust it goes through the needle's eye

30Impromptu in C Minor

31On Going Deaf

32Talking Sense to my Senses

33Who's Joking with the Photographer?


35Making Poetry