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The Mourning Mother
What woe is thine, pale mother?—say What grief devours thy heart? For aye Thy looks averted shun the day, And midnight sees thee watch and pray With sighing, quivering breath. The hand of wedded love to clasp— To feel true friendship's fervent grasp Is thine. Why, then, with sob and gasp Still heaves thy heart, as sting of asp Had struck the pang of death? "Oh, lost! lost! lost!—the loved, the young On dark perdition's torrent flung— With maddened brain and hearts unstrung O'er deepest gulf of ruin swung, And I—I cannot save! O! minstrel King, thy soul-wrung cry Draws from my heart a deep reply— My sons, my sons! each burdened sigh My sons, my sons! breathes to the sky— My God, thy help I crave! "My gentle boys—obedient, fond— How oft around my knees ye conned The Book which taught all names beyond His name to bless whose blood atoned For guilt of fallen man! How blessed the time when work and play Alternate shared the hours of day! Till pillowed cheek to cheek ye lay, And mother o'er you stooped to pray, As only mother can." But, ah! on clouds of grief and shame, To this dear home a demon came— The undying worm, the quenchless flame Are thine, Intemperance; at the name The lesser fiends rejoice. Well hath the dark-souled poet said— "More sad than wail above the dead Are words by living sorrow fed:" Such breathe o'er lost inebriate's head From mourning mother's voice. The song, the dance, the wanton's love, May fail the young desires to move; But fiercer ordeal they must prove, Launched on the world, who rise above The tempter's proffer'd cup. They fell, for guileless youth what hope? Urged, bantered, drawn, nay, forced to cope With senior mates in yard or shop: Workmen, these human offerings stop To Moloch offered up.
Janet Hamilton's other poems:
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