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Poem by Janet Hamilton

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 II 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 boysobedient, 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

Janet Hamilton's other poems:
  1. The Civil War in America
  2. Address and Welcome to J. B. Gough
  3. The Highlands of Scotland
  4. Duleep Singh
  5. Lines on the Trial of Madeline Smith for the Murder of L'Angelier

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