Sad Poems: To A Sad Daughter - Poem by Michael Ondaatje

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To A Sad Daughter - Poem by Michael Ondaatje

All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
--all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.

When I thought of daughters
I wasn't expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say 'like'
I mean of course 'love'
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

One day I'll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it. For if you close your ears
only nothing happens. You will never change.

I don't care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories. Just
don't be fooled by anyone but yourself.

This is the first lecture I've given you.
You're 'sweet sixteen' you said.
I'd rather be your closest friend
than your father. I'm not good at advice
you know that, but ride
the ceremonies
until they grow dark.

Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
--but that is greed.
And sometimes I've gone
into my purple world
and lost you.

One afternoon I stepped
into your room. You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
--all those possible worlds!--
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.

I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
Want everything. If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don't care
but I'll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever.

If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don't recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon's
yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie
in his frightening mask
dreams perhaps
of gentleness.


Comments about To A Sad Daughter by Michael Ondaatje

  • Rookie Karen Brubaker (1/11/2009 11:35:00 PM)

    I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael Ondaatje after a reading of his works, both novels and poetry. I shared with him that I am a teacher and have used his poetry with my high school students. 'To A Sad Daughter' is a wonderful example of how man forms stereotypes, and the wise among us refuse to accept them. This adventure with Ondaatje made me a groupie of his forever... His prose, too, is poetry! (Report) Reply

    18 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • Rookie Jona Polo-Ramirez (10/7/2007 2:45:00 PM)

    I have read most of your novels and they are great. This poetry is great. It hit home for me. It's ironic for a teacher like me to have struggles with my daughter in terms of her schooling and yet I had and have so many students who admire what I do for them in my class.

    Jona
    (Report) Reply

    13 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Rookie Willem VanVoorthuysen (6/3/2005 8:03:00 PM)

    Michael, I never had a daughter, just 5 sons. But when I read your poem, 'To a Sad Daughter', I felt as if she was my own daughter, the one I never had, It was like sitting on a veranda having a cool drink with you and talking about our daughters. Your poem went straight to my heart. I once wrote one to honor my daughters-in-law, but I would now call that one superficial compared to yours.
    Keep trying to see the Divine Light as it inspires you to keep writing.
    Willem
    (Report) Reply

    21 person liked.
    26 person did not like.
Sad Poems
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  2. 2. A Fairly Sad Tale
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  3. 3. ‘and Ask Ye Why These Sad Tears Stream?’
    Alfred Lord Tennyson
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  7. 7. Sad In Blue (A Lyric)
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  9. 9. For A Sad Lady
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  10. 10. To A Sad Daughter
    Michael Ondaatje
  11. 11. My Sad Captains
    Thom Gunn
  12. 12. In My Own Shire, If I Was Sad
    Alfred Edward Housman
  13. 13. With How Sad Steps, O Moon, Thou Climb's..
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  14. 14. Sit Down, Sad Soul
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  15. 15. Sad Green Eyes
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  16. 16. Baseball's Sad Lexicon
    Franklin Pierce Adams
  17. 17. Sad-Eyed And Soft And Grey
    William Morris
  18. 18. Close Those Sad Sad Eyes
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  19. 19. To The Sad Moon
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  20. 20. Bored And Sad
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  25. 25. The Bad Season Makes The Poet Sad
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  27. 27. Phantasmagoria Canto Vii ( Sad Souvenaun..
    Lewis Carroll
  28. 28. The Lacking Sense Scene.--A Sad-Coloured..
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  29. 29. Sonnet Xxxi: With How Sad Steps, O Moon
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  32. 32. I Sing A Sad Song
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Sad Poems

  1. A Sad Child

    You're sad because you're sad. It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical. Go see a shrink or take a pill, or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll you need to sleep. Well, all children are sad but some get over it. Count your blessings. Better than that, buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet. Take up dancing to forget. Forget what? Your sadness, your shadow, whatever it was that was done to you the day of the lawn party when you came inside flushed with the sun, your mouth sulky with sugar, in your new dress with the ribbon and the ice-cream smear, and said to yourself in the bathroom, I am not the favorite child. My darling, when it comes right down to it and the light fails and the fog rolls in and you're trapped in your overturned body under a blanket or burning car, and the red flame is seeping out of you and igniting the tarmac beside your head or else the floor, or else the pillow, none of us is; or else we all are.

  2. Be Not Sad

    Be not sad because all men Prefer a lying clamour before you: Sweetheart, be at peace again -- - Can they dishonour you? They are sadder than all tears; Their lives ascend as a continual sigh. Proudly answer to their tears: As they deny, deny.

  3. A Fairly Sad Tale

    I think that I shall never know Why I am thus, and I am so. Around me, other girls inspire In men the rush and roar of fire, The sweet transparency of glass, The tenderness of April grass, The durability of granite; But me- I don't know how to plan it. The lads I've met in Cupid's deadlock Were- shall we say?- born out of wedlock. They broke my heart, they stilled my song, And said they had to run along, Explaining, so to sop my tears, First came their parents or careers. But ever does experience Deny me wisdom, calm, and sense! Though she's a fool who seeks to capture The twenty-first fine, careless rapture, I must go on, till ends my rope, Who from my birth was cursed with hope. A heart in half is chaste, archaic; But mine resembles a mosaic- The thing's become ridiculous! Why am I so? Why am I thus?

  4. The Sad Mother

    Sleep, sleep, my beloved, without worry, without fear, although my soul does not sleep, although I do not rest. Sleep, sleep, and in the night may your whispers be softer than a leaf of grass, or the silken fleece of lambs. May my flesh slumber in you, my worry, my trembling. In you, may my eyes close and my heart sleep.

  5. ‘and Ask Ye Why These Sad Tears Stream?’

    'And ask ye why these sad tears stream?' ‘Te somnia nostra reducunt.’ OVID. And ask ye why these sad tears stream? Why these wan eyes are dim with weeping? I had a dream–a lovely dream, Of her that in the grave is sleeping. I saw her as ’twas yesterday, The bloom upon her cheek still glowing; And round her play’d a golden ray, And on her brows were gay flowers blowing. With angel-hand she swept a lyre, A garland red with roses bound it; Its strings were wreath’d with lambent fire And amaranth was woven round it. I saw her mid the realms of light, In everlasting radiance gleaming; Co-equal with the seraphs bright, Mid thousand thousand angels beaming. I strove to reach her, when, behold, Those fairy forms of bliss Elysian, And all that rich scene wrapt in gold, Faded in air–a lovely vision! And I awoke, but oh! to me That waking hour was doubly weary; And yet I could not envy thee, Although so blest, and I so dreary.

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