At times I am the mother of the world;
And mine seem all its sorrows, and its fears.
That rose, which in each mother-heart is curled,
The rose of pity, opens with my tears,
And, waking in the night, I lie and hark
To the lone sobbing, and the wild alarms,
Of my World-child, a wailing in the dark:
The child I fain would shelter in my arms.
I call to it (as from another room
A mother calls, what time she cannot go):
"Sleep well, dear world; Love hides behind this gloom.
There is no need for wakefulness or woe,
The long, long night is almost past and gone,
The day is near." And yet the world weeps on.
Again I follow it, throughout the day.
With anxious eyes I see it trip and fall,
And hurt itself in many a foolish way:
Childlike, unheeding warning word or call.
I see it grasp, and grasping, break the toys
It cried to own, then toss them on the floor
And, breathless, hurry after fancied joys
That cease to please, when added to its store.
I see the lacerations on its hands,
Made by forbidden tools; but when it weeps,
I also weep, as one who understands;
And having been a child, the memory keeps.
Ah, my poor world, however wrong thy part,
Still is there pity in my mother-heart.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Cosmopolitan 43 (June 1907): 188.
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