The Dying Mother

Dublin Core


The Dying Mother


On breezy pinion mournful Eve came singing

Over the silent hills, and to the glades,

And violet-beds a stream of odours bringing,

And waking music in the forest-shades;

For 'twas the time when the lone cotter wending

His silent way along the foot-path dim,

Sought his loved home, where gentle voices blending,

Sent up the music of an evening hymn.

A lovely length of moon-lit waters, lightly

Broke into sudden brightness on the strand,

While thro' the sky's soft fleecy fret work brightly,

The stars looked out upon the stilly land;

But sadly 'neath them gleamed two lovely faces,

(Oh! fearful things and sad the stars to see,)

For they were strangers, roaming thro' strange places,

A mother with a boy beside her knee.

Her only shelter was the blue-arched heaven,

As to her child's she bent her earnest face,

For well she knew another whispering even,

Would find her form a thing of Death's embrace;

And, as she saw the quivering tear drop springing

Into his eye, and heard him ask for bread,

Swift thoughts like lightning through her brain went winging,

And thus she poured them o'er his fair young hed.

Boy! I would fain return thy fond caresses,
But I must put thee from my heart away,

On the cold earth to lay,

And though upon thee hunger harshly presses,
Planting within thee deep its gnawing fangs,

I cannot stay thy pangs.

For I have wandered till I'm worn and weary,
Seeking a shelter for thy little head,

Or a spare crust of bread;

But have found none, and now, heart-sick and dreary,
I lay me down beneath the quiet sky,

To bless thee, boy, and die!

It is, alas! a mournful thing to leave thee
In this cold world to thy young thoughts alone,

For oh! when I am gone,

No smiling mother will at eve receive thee,
Bending o'er thy hushed lip and folded eye -

Alas! that I must die!

But thou wilt think upon the prayer I taught thee,
When life with us flowed smoothly as a song,

Our native hills among;

And how, at noon-tide, I have often brought thee,
In thy young beauty to thy father's side,

With all a mother's pride.

And when for rest thou seek'st the rich man's dwelling,
Should he from his bright mansion bid the flee,

Speak harsh things to thee,

Let not thy heart with dark despair be swelling,
For soft to thee will be the velvet sod,

If thou wilt trust in God.

And each pale lily, o'er the waters stooping,
From its pure alabaster vase, will shed

A gleam about thy head;

And the red berries in rich clusters drooping
From many a bended bough in this dark wood,

Will be thy fragrant food.

For thou must wander by each low voiced river,
And school thy timid heart to be alone

When the night winds make moan,

And when the forest leaves above thee shiver,
To calmly lay thee 'neath their solemn shade,

And not be afraid.

For He, who is His glory dwells above thee,
Who tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb,

With a deep Sabbath calm,

Will fill thy heart, and in his mercy love thee,
And on thy weakness bend a pitying eye,

And in thy need draw nigh.

And now, farewell! the early morn will wake thee
Unto a fearful sight - thy mother, child,

Dead in a forest wild!

And sudden sorrow, like a storm, will shake thee,
But God will still the tempest in thy breast -

A blessing on thee rest!




2:27, p. 108




From the Louisville Journal


Unattributed, “The Dying Mother,” Periodical Poets, accessed April 14, 2024,


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