Source of witness transcribed: The Vermont Phœnix (Brattleboro, Vermont)
Date of witness transcribed: 6 September 1872
Notes about this poem: "Tired Mothers" was printed in at least 275 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 706872 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.
- A little elbow leans upon your knee,
- Your tired knee, that has so much to bear;
- A child’s dear eyes are looking lovingly
- From underneath a thatch of tangled hair.
- Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch
- Of warm, moist fingers, folding yours so tight;—
- You do not prize this blessing over-much,
You almost are too tired to pray tonight.
- But it is blessedness! A year ago
- I did not see it as I do today,—
- We are so dull and thankless; and too slow
- To catch the sunshine till it slips away.
- And now it seems surpassing strange to me,
- That, while I wore the badge of mother-hood,
- I did not kiss more oft, and tenderly,
The little child that brought me only good.
- And if, some night when you sit down to rest,
- You miss this elbow from your tired knee;
- This restless, curling head from off your breast,
- This lisping tongue that chatters constantly;
- If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
- And ne’er would nestle in your palm again;
- If the white feet into their grave had tripped,
I could not blame you for your heart-ache then!
- I wonder that mothers ever fret,
- At little children clinging to their gown;
- Or that the foot-prints, when the days are wet,
- Are ever black enough to make them frown.
- If I could find a little muddy boot,
- Or cap, or jacket, on my chamber floor;
- If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,
And hear its patter in my home once more;
- If I could mend a broken cart today,
- Tomorrow make a kite, to reach the sky—
- There is no woman in God’s world could say
- She was more blissfully content than I.
- But ah! the dainty pillow next my own
- Is never rumpled by a shining head;—
- My singing birdling from its nest has flown;
- The little boy I used to kiss is dead!
—From the Aldine for September.