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Poem by Janet Hamilton
Night Phases of Drunkenness
PHASE I The midnight hour hath chimed, The night is wild and cold; I see a trembling hand Yon cottage door unfold. A pale and furrowed face Peers forth into the storm; And o'er the threshold leans A bent and tottering form. Her white hair, damp with tears, Clings to her wasted cheek; With failing eyes she scans The street, her son to seek. His staggering form she sees, His reeling steps she hears— Break, widowed heart! How vain Thy pleading words and tears! PHASE II A dark, dismantled room— A wailing infant's cry— A little weeping maid Sings mournful lullaby— Two baby brothers, pale With hunger, cold, and fear, Lie at her feet; while she Keeps sobbing, "Mother, dear! "Oh! shall I never see Thy sweet and mournful face? Oh! take thy baby home Unto the blessed place. No milk, no food have I, For her and brothers dear; Father beats us when we cry, And leaves us nightly here." PHASE III A workman sought his home, When evening bells had rung— Dark thoughts o'er brow and heart Their sullen shadows flung. A little ragged boy, With hunger in his eyes, Cries, "Mother lies in bed And minds not baby's cries." No light, nor food, nor fire Is in the wretched room— To where the inebriate lies He rushes in the gloom. He beats the senseless form— He drags her from the bed Where, crushed and livid, lies Her smother'd infant—dead! PHASE IV A slender, pallid boy, With hectic on his cheek, Moved by his mother's tears, His father goes to seek. The midnight moon looks down Upon the wintry street, And sees the shrinking youth His ruffian parent meet. With drunken fury blazed His eyes—with curse and blow He dashed the feeble boy Upon the stones below. His bleeding form they raised— Sustained his dying head— But ere the mother's arms Had clasped him, life was fled!
Janet Hamilton's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org