Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

The Unborn


Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.

Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.

Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office

And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Saturday, November 19, 2011

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Comments about this poem (The Unborn by Sharon Olds )

  • Gold Star - 10,313 Points Kim Barney (11/29/2014 11:29:00 AM)

    Amazing poem. I love it and am adding it to my favorite poems list. Will read more of your poems, Sharon. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,119 Points Jayatissa K. Liyanage (11/29/2014 10:04:00 AM)

    Its a wonderful poem. Its more wonderful to get a feeling about your heart, Sharon. A heart filled with compassion only can write poems like this. You did it. Thanks for sharing. Full marks! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 9,104 Points Rajnish Manga (11/29/2014 2:50:00 AM)

    The poem reminds me of those unfortunate societies where a girl child is not welcome, hence people resort to foeticide. This is a very poignant commentary on those unborn babies, unborn dreams, anything aborted before birth. Please accept my sincere thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 37 Points Colleen Courtney (5/15/2014 11:17:00 AM)

    One of my favorite poems by the poet. So much tender honesty and heartfelt longing. Simply beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Akila A (12/16/2013 12:35:00 AM)

    Today i got a chance to read this poem and i was stretching out my arms to hold them. A very wam and lively poem. Thanks for the good one. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tamara Likhach (12/3/2013 7:46:00 AM)

    Just my feelings for many years. As in my dreams.
    Thanks! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kathryn Mahan (11/30/2013 9:17:00 AM)

    This piece has such deep feeling... very nicely written. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 855 Points Jasbir Chatterjee (11/29/2013 10:57:00 PM)

    this poem gives me the eerie feeling of something waiting to happen, , , something like standing on the edge of a cliff...good write... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 21 Points Alistair Graham (11/29/2013 3:05:00 AM)

    The Born

    Babies Puppies Kittens
    In a cuddled state
    Of mind,
    In the strong
    Arms of the law
    Of nature. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ruth Owusu (1/24/2013 6:41:00 AM)

    love this poem,
    it speaks to my heart and i can relate with it.
    love your style of write.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Nida Nawaz (1/24/2013 3:26:00 AM)

    Beautiful poem regarding infanticide. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 773 Points Leslie Philibert (1/16/2013 2:58:00 AM)

    A brillant poem from an established poet, who has recently been hounoured. She is too good for this site (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 369 Points Stephen W (1/7/2013 4:28:00 PM)

    I don't think this poem has anything to do with abortion. What are people thinking? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Paul Anthony (1/1/2013 8:29:00 PM)

    Wow, no messing here, straight for the jugular. unbelievable. Love it. Love it (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 4,840 Points Savita Tyagi (12/26/2012 9:38:00 AM)

    If words can touch any heart this poem does that. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 21 Points Alistair Graham (12/22/2012 6:18:00 PM)

    Reminds me of the Buddhist belief of “souls” waiting to be reincarnated into a new body for a new round. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sonya Marco (12/14/2012 12:00:00 PM)

    n some antechamber - servants, half-
    Listening for the bell. ...I love this poem! (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 514 Points Sally Plumb Plumb (12/11/2012 8:06:00 AM)

    Lovely piece... but who am I to pass comment on a great poet. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 11,172 Points Sandra Feldman (12/9/2012 6:48:00 PM)

    beautiful imagery, beautifully said. A poem that should be read by all abortionist (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Bolah Lawal (12/5/2012 1:29:00 PM)

    Touchingly sad, i like the imagery effect! Nice piece! ! ! (Report) Reply

Read all 28 comments »

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