Lie back daughter, let your head be tipped back in the cup of my hand.

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls…
You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea…
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

Philip Booth, from “First Lesson” in  Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999

Notes: Photo by mary-annm. Poem via 3 Quarks Daily


  1. in time, you will learn to trust enough to find and believe in your own balance.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reading this in a comatose stage, spread across a garden armchair, sighing in the still prevailing heat (28°C at 10.07pm) and praying for a swimming pool or else for a gallon of iced water to drink….. sorry. Brain has shutdown.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so beautiful. Reminds me of my husband’s way with the kids. My dad literally through me in the water.
    And the photo, perfection….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sublime…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wish I’d had that kind of help in learning to swim as a child. We didn’t have a pool in town in the early years, and my parents weren’t swimmers (even if they’d had the leisure time). I remember someone trying to teach me to float with my face in the water and saying you just had to believe that you were going to float, and you would. For the first 16 years of my life I swam like a rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this. Conjures up an image to when your brother gave Rachel and Eric swimming lessons in our pool in Florida – “make yourself a starfish – head in my hands, relax, breath easy, and open yourself as wide as possible.” And they floated!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Christie says:

    I bet this takes you back to when Rachel and Eric were little and how they loved living in Miami…running on the beach, frolicking in the ocean…freedom under the spring and summer sun…and I bet today they are drawn to the coastal and island life…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The sea will Always hold you. Just got to relax and trust.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A wonderful lesson for Life 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Somehow this little ditty almost brought a tear to the ol eye. Something about the gentle way the poem was written. Not everyone can write that way. Tear avoided.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such a wonderful sentiment. Brought me back to Mr. Pillo, our kind neighbor and best friend to Dad, teaching me to float in Long Island Sound. From there I learned to swim and be perfectly comfortable in salt water. Thanks for stirring that remembrance David.

    Liked by 1 person

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