Parent poems: I have collected these.
"My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke
"My Mother Pieced Quilts" by Teresa Paloma Acosta
"Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes
"There Was a Child Went Forth" by Walt Whitman
"Mrs. Charles Bliss" by Edgar Lee Masters
"On My First Son" by Ben Jonson
"The First Snowfall" by James Russell Lowell
"A Black Man Talks of Reaping" by Arna Bontemps
"For My Children" by Colleen McElroy
Rilke's "picture poem" about his father is also wonderful:
Portrait of My Father as a Young Man
In the eyes: dream. The brow as if it could feel
something far off. Around the lips, a great
freshness - seductive, though there is no smile.
Under the rows of ornamental braid
on the slim Imperial officer's uniform:
the saber's basket-hilt. Both hands stay
folded upon it, going nowhere, calm
and now almost invisible, as if they
were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
And all the rest so curtained with itself,
so cloudy, that I cannot understand
this figure as it fades into the background -
Oh quickly disappearing photograph
in my more slowly disappearing hand.
(tr. Stephen Mitchell)
I ask students to pick a photograph and attempt to pay the same sort of careful attention to it that Rilke is paying to this picture of his father, try to combine patient observation and reflection in something like the same way. The rather stunning leap taken in the last two lines is perhaps inimitable, but it can at least be noticed, and students sometimes find a way to surprise themselves at the end the poem.