Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Mother’s Love

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Thomas Burbidge b. 1816

Mother’s Love

HE sang so wildly, did the Boy,

That you could never tell

If ’t was a madman’s voice you heard,

Or if the spirit of a bird

Within his heart did dwell:

A bird that dallies with his voice

Among the matted branches;

Or on the free blue air his note

To pierce, and fall, and rise, and float,

With bolder utterance launches.

None ever was so sweet as he,

The boy that wildly sang to me;

Though toilsome was the way and long,

He led me not to lose the song.

But when again we stood below

The unhidden sky, his feet

Grew slacker, and his note more slow,

But more than doubly sweet.

He led me then a little way

Athwart the barren moor,

And then he stayed and bade me stay

Beside a cottage door;

I could have stayed of mine own will,

In truth, my eye and heart to fill

With the sweet sight which I saw there,

At the dwelling of the cottager.

A little in the doorway sitting,

The mother plied her busy knitting,

And her cheek so softly smil’d,

You might be sure, although her gaze

Was on the meshes of the lace,

Yet her thoughts were with her child.

But when the boy had heard her voice,

As o’er her work she did rejoice,

His became silent altogether,

And slily creeping by the wall,

He seiz’d a single plume, let fall

By some wild bird of longest feather;

And all a-tremble with his freak,

He touch’d her lightly on the cheek.

Oh, what a loveliness her eyes

Gather in that one moment’s space,

While peeping round the post she spies

Her darling’s laughing face!

Oh, mother’s love is glorifying,

On the cheek like sunset lying;

In the eyes a moisten’d light,

Softer than the moon at night!