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By Weldon Kees

Looking into my daughter’s eyes I read   

Beneath the innocence of morning flesh   

Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed.

Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh

Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;

The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,

Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen   

That may be hers appear: foul, lingering   

Death in certain war, the slim legs green.   

Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting   

Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel   

Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.   

These speculations sour in the sun.   

I have no daughter. I desire none.


Weldon Kees, "For My Daughter” from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees edited by Donald Justice by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press. © renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (2003)

Poet Bio

Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, earning his degree in 1935. In addition to writing, Kees was passionate about painting and throughout his life created many forms of art including experimental films. In 1955 Kees took his sleeping bag and his savings account book and disappeared, leaving his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is not known whether he killed himself or went to Mexico.

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