The Song Of The Old Mother
by William Butler Yeats
I rise in the dawn, and I kneel and blow
Till the seed of the fire flicker and glow;
And then I must scrub and bake and sweep
Till stars are beginning to blink and peep;
And the young lie long and dream in their bed
Of the matching of ribbons for bosom and head,
And their day goes over in idleness,
And they sigh if the wind but lift a tress:
While I must work because I am old,
And the seed of the fire gets feeble and cold.
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then, with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather, made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
(Watch a video of this poem being read and
by Yehuda Amichai
The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.
Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,
and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.
Mother to Son
by Langston Hughes
Well, son, Ifll tell you:
Life for me ainft been no crystal stair.
Itfs had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
Ifse been a-climbinf on,
And reachinf landinfs,
And turninf corners,
And sometimes goinf in the dark
Where there ainft been no light.
So boy, donft you turn back.
Donft you set down on the steps
eCause you finds itfs kinder hard.
Donft you fall now --
For Ifse still goin', honey,
Ifse still climbin',
And life for me ainft been no crystal stair.
A Prayer for a Mother's Birthday
by Henry Van Dyke
Lord Jesus, Thou hast known
A mother's love and tender care:
And Thou wilt hear, while for my own
Mother most dear I make this birthday prayer.
Protect her life, I pray,
Who gave the gift of life to me;
And may she know, from day to day,
The deepening glow of Life that comes from Thee.
As once upon her breast
Fearless and well content I lay,
So let her heart, on Thee at rest,
Feel fears depart and troubles fade away.
Her every wish fulfill;
And even if Thou must refuse
In anything, let Thy wise will
A comfort bring such as kind mothers use.
Ah, hold her by the hand,
As once her hand held mine;
And though she may not understand
Life's winding way, lead her in peace divine.
I cannot pay my debt
For all the love that she has given;
But Thou, love's Lord, wilt not forget
Her due reward,--bless her in earth and heaven.
A Mother's Lament for her Son's Death
by Robert Burns
FATE gave the word, the arrow sped,
And piercfd my darlingfs heart;
And with him all the joys are fled
Life can to me impart.
By cruel hands the sapling drops,
In dust dishonourfd laid;
So fell the pride of all my hopes,
My agefs future shade.
The mother-linnet in the brake
Bewails her ravishfd young;
So I, for my lost darlingfs sake,
Lament the live-day long.
Death, oft Ifve feared thy fatal blow.
Now, fond, I bare my breast;
O, do thou kindly lay me low
With him I love, at rest!
Nature -- the Gentlest Mother is,
by Emily Dickinson
Nature -- the Gentlest Mother is,
Impatient of no Child --
The feeblest -- or the waywardest --
Her Admonition mild --
In Forest -- and the Hill --
By Traveller -- be heard --
Restraining Rampant Squirrel --
Or too impetuous Bird --
How fair Her Conversation --
A Summer Afternoon --
Her Household -- Her Assembly --
And when the Sun go down --
Her Voice among the Aisles
Incite the timid prayer
Of the minutest Cricket --
The most unworthy Flower --
When all the Children sleep --
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light Her lamps --
Then bending from the Sky --
With infinite Affection --
And infiniter Care --
Her Golden finger on Her lip --
Wills Silence -- Everywhere --
Mother and child
by Eugene Field
One night a tiny dewdrop fell
Into the bosom of a rose,--
"Dear little one, I love thee well,
Be ever here thy sweet repose!"
Seeing the rose with love bedight,
The envious sky frowned dark, and then
Sent forth a messenger of light
And caught the dewdrop up again.
"Oh, give me back my heavenly child,--
My love!" the rose in anguish cried;
Alas! the sky triumphant smiled,
And so the flower, heart-broken, died.
Mother, Summer, I
by Philip Larkin
My mother, who hates thunder storms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost,
And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can't confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.
A Young Child And His Pregnant Mother
by Delmore Schwartz
At four years Nature is mountainous,
Mysterious, and submarine. Even
A city child knows this, hearing the subway's
Rumor underground. Between the grate,
Dropping his penny, he learned out all loss,
The irretrievable cent of fate,
And now this newest of the mysteries,
Confronts his honest and his studious eyes----
His mother much too fat and absentminded,
Gazing past his face, careless of him,
His fume, his charm, his bedtime, and warm milk,
As soon the night will be too dark, the spring
Too late, desire strange, and time too fast,
This estrangement is a gradual thing
(His mother once so svelte, so often sick!
Towering father did this: what a trick!)
Explained to cautiously, containing fear,
Another being's being, becoming dear:
All men are enemies: thus even brothers
Can separate each other from their mothers!
No better example than this unborn brother
Shall teach him of his exile from his mother,
Measured by his distance from the sky,
Spoken in two vowels,
I am I.
The Sad Mother
by Gabriela Mistral
Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
without worry, without fear,
although my soul does not sleep,
although I do not rest.
Sleep, sleep, and in the night
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass,
or the silken fleece of lambs.
May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling.
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep.
The Virgin Mother
by D.H. Lawrence
My little love, my darling,
You were a doorway to me;
You let me out of the confines
Into this strange countrie,
Where people are crowded like thistles,
Yet are shapely and comely to see.
My little love, my dearest
Twice have you issued me,
Once from your womb, sweet mother,
Once from myself, to be
Free of all hearts, my darling,
Of each heartfs home-life free.
And so, my love, my mother,
I shall always be true to you;
Twice I am born, my dearest,
To life, and to death, in you;
And this is the life hereafter
Wherein I am true.
I kiss you good-bye, my darling,
Our ways are different now;
You are a seed in the night-time,
I am a man, to plough
The difficult glebe of the future
For God to endow.
I kiss you good-bye, my dearest,
It is finished between us here.
Oh, if I were calm as you are,
Sweet and still on your bier!
O God, if I had not to leave you
Alone, my dear!
Let the last word be uttered,
Oh grant the farewell is said!
Spare me the strength to leave you
Now you are dead.
I must go, but my soul lies helpless
Beside your bed.
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?--
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
Mother of Pearl
by Raymond A. Foss
An ancient shell
on their shelf
a memento, a reminder of the sea
of the coast
glistening under the film of dust
of the passing years
a clouded rainbow
shimmering color in the surface,
in the depth of the shell,
its skin, its sinew
urging young hands to touch
young eyes to marvel
at its iridescent beauty
saved and treasured
on their shelf