Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DYING MOTHER TO HER INFANT, by CAROLINE ANNE BOWLES SOUTHEY



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THE DYING MOTHER TO HER INFANT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My baby! My poor little one! Thou'rt come a winter flower
Last Line: Come, death! And make me to my child at least in spirit known.
Alternate Author Name(s): Bowles, Caroline Anne


My baby! my poor little one! thou'rt come a winter flower,
A pale and tender blossom, in a cold unkindly hour;
Thou comest like the snow-drop, and like that pretty thing,
The power that calls my bud to life will shield its blossoming.

The snow-drop hath no guardian leaves, to fold her safe and warm
Yet well she bides the bitter blast, and weathers out the storm;
I shall not long enfold thee thus -- not long, but well I know
The everlasting arms, my Babe! will never let thee go.

The snow-drop -- how it haunts me still! hangs down her fair young head;
So thine may droop in days to come, when I have long been dead.
And yet the little snow-drop's safe -- from her instruction seek;
For who would crush the motherless, the lowly, and the meek?

Yet motherless thou'lt not be long -- not long in name, my life!
Thy father soon will bring him home another, fairer, wife:
Be loving, dutiful to her -- find favour in her sight --
-- But never, O my child, forget thine own poor mother quite.

But who will speak to thee of her? -- The gravestone at her head
Will only tell the name and age and lineage of the dead:
But not a word of all the love -- the mighty love for thee
That crowded years into an hour of brief maternity.

They'll put my picture from its place to fix another's there,
That picture that was thought so like, and then so passing fair!
Some chamber in thy father's house they'll let thee call thine own;
Oh! take it there to look upon, when thou art all alone --

To breathe thine early griefs unto, if such assail my child;
To turn to from less loving looks, from faces not so mild.
Alas! unconscious little one, thou'lt never know that best,
That holiest home of all the earth, a living mother's breast.

I do repent me now too late of each impatient thought,
That would not let me tarry out God's leisure as I ought:
I've been too hasty, peevish, proud: I long'd to go away;
And now I'd fain live on for thee, God will not let me stay.

Oh! when I think of what I was, and what I might have been,
A bride last year -- and now to die! -- and I am scarce nineteen;
And just, just opening in my heart a fount of love so new!
So deep! Could that have run to waste? Could that have fail'd me, too?

The bliss it would have been to see my daughter at my side!
My prime of life scarce overblown, and hers in all its pride:
To deck her with my finest things, with all I've rich and rare:
To hear it said, "How beautiful! and good as she is fair!"

And then to place the marriage-wreath upon that bright young brow, --
Oh! no -- not that -- 't is full of thorns. -- Alas! I'm wandering now.
This weak, weak head! this foolish heart! they'll cheat me to the last:
I've been a dreamer all my life, and now that life is past!

Thou'lt have thy father's eyes, my child! Oh! once how kind they were!
His long black lashes, his own smile, and just such raven hair.
But here's a mark -- Poor innocent! he'll love thee for't the less --
Like that upon thy mother's cheek, his lips were wont to press.

And yet perhaps I do him wrong: -- perhaps, when all's forgot
But our young loves, in memory's mood he'll kiss this very spot.
Oh! then, my dearest! clasp thine arms about his neck full fast;
And whisper that I bless'd him now, and loved him to the last.

I've heard that little infants converse by smiles and signs
With the guardian band of angels that round about them shines,
Unseen by grosser senses; beloved one! dost thou
Smile so upon thy heavenly friends, and commune with them now?

And hast thou not one look for me? Those little restless eyes
Are wand'ring, wand'ring everywhere, the while thy mother dies;
And yet, perhaps thou'rt seeking me, expecting me, mine own!
Come, Death! and make me to my child at least in spirit known.





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