Fugitive Verses
Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers

Tired Mothers

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.