Advice to a Teenage Daughter Poem by Isobel Thrilling Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


“Advice to a Teenage Daughter” is a poem written by Isobel Thrilling. The poem is an instructive poem. It talks about the trails in love that a person goes through. The poem also talks about the complexities that one faces in their life. The poet warns her teenage daughter to think before waging the war of love. The poet talks about teaching her daughter to nurture good relationships in life.

About the poet

Isobel Thrilling was born in the United Kingdom. She is an English poet and writer. She has published many books under her name, including “The Ultrasonics of Snow”,”The Language Creatures” and “The Chemistry of Angels”.


The poem consists of 2 stanzas. The first stanza comprises 15 lines and the second stanza is made up of 6 lines. The poem is an instructional poem.

Stanza 1

You have found a new war-game
called Love.
Here on your dressing-table
stand arrayed
brave ranks of lipsticks
swords of cherry pink and flame.
Behold the miniature armies
of little jars
packed with the scented
dynamite of flowers.
See the dreaded tweezers;
tiny pots
of manufactured moonlight,
stick-on stars.


The begins by the speaker talking to her daughter and saying that the daughter has found a new war-game. This war-game is Love. And in order to win this game, the daughter is using all the weapons she can. The speaker talks about the army of lipsticks standing in ranks holding their brightly coloured swords of cherry pink and red. She also has an army of jars of floral scented perfumes. The flowers are as strong as dynamite. The daughter also has the tweezer as a weapon and creams made to make her skin shine with moonlight like the stars in the sky.


The poet is referring to her daughter who has just reached puberty. At this time, the poet knows that teenage daughters strive to find love. This quest for a relationship is treated as a war or a game by teenagers. A teenage girl wants to win the heart of the boy and to win this game she uses “weapons” to make herself look more physically attractive. The poet compares the daughter’s makeup to weapons used in a war. The lipsticks and perfume jars are soldiers in the army. The former hold the weapons of brightly coloured swords and the latter have the dynamite of scented flowers. The poet terms the tweezers “dreaded” because of the pain they cause to the girl. She poet uses oxymoron in the next line when she talks about “manufactured moonlight”. Moonlight is a natural phenomenon but the creams that the girl uses are artificial.

Stanza 2

Beware my sweet;
conquest may seem easy
but you can’t compete with football,
motor cycles, cars,
cricket, computer-games,
or a plate of chips.


The speaker gives a warning to her daughter and tells her that though she might think that winning the war is easy, all her weapons can not compete with things like football, motorcycles, cars, computer-games, cricket and a plate of chips. The daughter may keep trying to make her more appealing but the boys have interest in other things.


The poem ends with a warning to the teenage girl. The mother says that her daughter should not focus so much on enhancing her physical appearance. All the effort does not guarantee her that a boy will fall in love with her. The boys are interested in their own things like sports, cars and computers. In the end, a boy might choose to watch a cricket match while eating a bag of chips. Thus while a girl puts in excessive efforts to look physically attractive, boys spend their time doing their own things.