Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PILGRIM, by ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE PILGRIM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Touch me not, mother, who art thou
Last Line: Because I love thee so!
Subject(s): Children; Childhood

TOUCH me not, mother, who art thou,
To lay a hand on me?
My soul was driven through sun and moon
Ere I was come to thee!
My soul was blown through the solid earth,
It rode upon the sea,
And the whirling planet brought me forth
Ere I was come to thee.
My feet have traveled by blood, by blood,
That guts a road through the hearts of men.
I lodged me safe beneath their mood
And then drove on again.
Touch me not, mother, for I must burn,
Such ancient fires flame in me!
Frail web that caught a scattered pollen,
I was not born of thee!
I must be strange, for I am far!
Oh, near and far as is the air!
I drank a strong milk out of a star --
For lo! thou wast not there.
Touch me not, mother! I was not held
By pleading, stone, or solid seas,
What is there in Thy wistful flesh
More strong than these?
If thou came out of the moon and star
I plucked thee forth by my desire.
I can bold thee burning in my hand!
It was my hand that shaped the fire.
Thou didst house thee in the mood
Of folk that perished long ago,
It was the whisper in my blood
That brought thee, whether thou wouldst or no.
I am more frail than water or stone,
But yet I shall not let thee go!
Thou art my son, and mine alone,
Because I love thee so!

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