Featured Poem: Father and Son by Patrick McGuinness

Last week we celebrated Father’s Day with our selection of Featured Poems for fathers and this week we continue the theme of parent and child relationships across the generations with this moving poem by Patrick McGuinness.

Written at the birth of his first son, at a time when he had lost his own father, Father and Son bridges the gap between grief and happiness, encapsulating the mixture of emotions and the poet’s own feeling of ‘leading two lives at once’.

Father and Son was featured in Issue 24 of The Reader in ‘The Poet on His Work’ feature and is one of the selection’s from The Reader‘s past revisited in our 50th Celebration Issue, which is available now.

Father and Son

In memory of my father and in welcome to my son

In the wings there is one who waits to go on,
and another, his scene run, who waits to go.

I would like to think they met; if not here
then like crossed letters touching in the dark;

the blank page and the turned page,
the first and the last, shadows folding

over and across me, in whom they’re bound.

Patrick McGuinness


Father and Son is taken from the collection The Canals of Mars (Carcanet, 2004) and is reproduced here with kind permission of the poet.

The full ‘Poet on His Work’ feature can be read in the Selection from The Reader’s Past in Issue 50 of The Reader, which also features vintage Reader highlights from Doris Lessing, Simon Barnes, Raymond Tallis , Carol Rumens, Howard Jacobson and many others.

Buy your copy of The Reader 50, or subscribe to receive a year’s worth of Readerly goodness from the Magazine section of our website.

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