Fugitive Verses
Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers

Rock Me to Sleep

Source of witness transcribed: The Emporia News (Emporia, Kansas)

Date of witness transcribed: 14 July 1860

Notes about this poem: "Rock Me to Sleep" was printed in at least 190 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 325478 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.


  • Backward, turn backward, oh Time, in your flight,
  • Make me a child again, just for to-night!
  • Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
  • Take me again to your heart as of yore;
  • Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
  • Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
  • Over my slumbers your loving watch keep—
  • Rock me to sleep, mother—rock me to sleep!

  • Backward, flow backward, oh tide of the years!
  • I am so weary of toil and of tears—
  • Toil without recompense—tears all in vain—
  • Take them, and give me my childhood again!
  • I have grown weary of dust and decay,
  • Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away—
  • Weary of sowing for others to reap,—
  • Rock me to sleep, mother—rock me to sleep!

  • Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
  • Mother, oh mother, my heart calls for you!
  • Many a summer the grass has grown green,
  • Blossomed and faded, our faces between;
  • Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain
  • Long I to-night for your presence again;
  • Come from the silence so long and so deep—
  • Rock me to sleep, mother—rock me to sleep!

  • Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
  • No love like mother-love ever has shown;
  • No other worship abides and endures
  • Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours;
  • None like a mother can charm away pain
  • From the sick soul and the world-weary brain;
  • Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep—
  • Rock me to sleep; mother—rock me to sleep!

  • Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
  • Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
  • Let it drop over my forehead to-night,
  • Shading my faint eyes away from the light,
  • For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
  • Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore
  • Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep—
  • Rock me to sleep, mother—rock me to sleep!

  • Mother, dear mother! the years have been long
  • Since I last listened to your lullaby song;
  • Since then, and unto my soul it shall seem
  • Womanhood’s years have been only a dream;
  • Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
  • With your light lashes just sweeping my face
  • Never hereafter to wake or to weep,
  • Rock me to sleep, mother—rock me to sleep!

ROME, Italy, May, 1860