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sarahsugs's avatar

Which poem should I read at my daughter's naming?

Asked by sarahsugs (2886 points ) July 12th, 2011

My daughter’s baby naming is coming up soon. Her first name, loosely translated, means “speech,” “speaker,” or “statement.” Her middle name means “life.” I would like to read a poem – of high literary quality – that in a beautiful way expresses the meanings of her name. I am having trouble finding something suitable. I am not looking for any cheezy, generic “poems for baby.” To give you a sense of my taste, this is the closest I have found:

——————————————

Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

———————

However, something is not quite right about it. Other favorite poets of mine include Mary Oliver, Michael Ondaatje, Robert Hass, Billy Collins, though I am open to any others as well. Any suggestions? What poem would you offer as a blessing for your daughter?

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10 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Try writing your own. That way, it can be exactly what you want.

sarahsugs's avatar

@Nullo, yes, I have considered writing my own. I am not usually a fan of my own poetry. But I have not ruled it out.

I just stumbled across You Begin, by Margaret Atwood – I need to ponder it more, but it may be just the thing.

JLeslie's avatar

Meaghan Elizabeth Moeller: a journey for us all

The promise of a new life
beams like the sun rising o’er the East—
Bright, vibrant, illuminating, warm.
The light you are destined to bring to this world
has already brightened all our lives—
as it is sure to spread to every corner of this land.
Yet, even as shadow recedes as noon approaches there
is always somewhere not warmed by the light—
how unfortunate these spaces would be if not lighted
by you—the warmest radiance of all.

And, as it is that we cannot but glimpse the brightness
of our solar friend without fear of blindness,
neither can we gaze into your brilliance to see
what so many tomorrows will bring.
But the promise of discovery makes every moment elapsed
an eternity of possibilities.

And though we cannot know what bright future
destiny holds for you,
we can all imagine, dream, ponder.
Yet, in the end you will choose on what celestial path
you wish to wander.
And, such as the stars arise from the collection
of matter to one venue,
So will your life be made from what you gather
from those around you.
Thus, though the path you choose will be your own,
the journey of your life will never be yours alone.

by Chadwick Austin Moeller – Uncle of Meaghan
Apr. 11, 1998 (two days after Meaghan was born)

gailcalled's avatar

W B Yeats wrote a beautiful, dense and complicated Prayer for My Daughter

In another vein, Ogden penned this wonderful ditty, “Song to be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children.”

Nursing You, by Erica Jong

sarahsugs's avatar

@JLeslie, that is stunning. Tears in my eyes. Thank you, and to the poet.

@gailcalled, yes, I have come across Yeats’ wonderful poem but fear it is too much for this simple ceremony and too difficult to listen to when read aloud. Thanks for the other suggestions too.

I love Fluther.

Nullo's avatar

Out of curiosity, how does a naming ceremony work? I’ve not heard of them before outside of fiction. And I’m a sucker for a good ceremony.

sarahsugs's avatar

This is a Hebrew naming ceremony, very common in the Jewish tradition. For boys it often accompanies the bris, or circumcision. It is when the parents announce the child’s Hebrew name (which may or may not be linked to the English name), and its origins and meanings. It is an opportunity for the family and community to formally welcome the child, including blessings from the parents and the extended family. Like any Jewish ritual, there are countless variations. Ours will be very non-traditional – no clergy, just family, with a couple traditional Hebrew blessings but mostly readings and songs of our own choosing.

gailcalled's avatar

@sarahsugs: Would you be willing to share her Hebrew name with us?

These lines, also by Yeats, break my heart still, particularly the last four.

“A Cradle Song”

The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.

God’s laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with his mood.

I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you have grown.

Pandora's avatar

Does it have to be a poem? Can it not be simply a letter from your heart? I’m sure when your child is older she would appreciate a letter about your joy in her being born to you. Every person likes to hear about the joy of their arrival in their own parents words.
I know when my kids where younger, they would ask me countless of times how did I and their dad feel when I first saw them.

Hibernate's avatar

Nothing is saying happy birthday then a poem written by yourself [ even if you are not good at it the intention is above it and later she’ll remind the poem and think of you ] .

my 2 cents.

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