Mother Mind

Original Text: 
[Julia Ward Howe] Passion-Flowers (Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854), pp. 91-92. PS 2017 P3 Robarts Library.
1I never made a poem, dear friend--
2I never sat me down, and said,
3This cunning brain and patient hand
4Shall fashion something to be read.
5Men often came to me, and prayed
6I should indite a fitting verse
7For fast, or festival, or in
8Some stately pageant to rehearse.
10I of myself could bless or curse.)
11Reluctantly I bade them go,
12Ungladdened by my poet-mite;
13My heart is not so churlish but
14Its loves to minister delight.
15But not a word I breathe is mine
16To sing, in praise of man or God;
17My Master calls, at noon or night,
18I know his whisper and his nod.
19Yet all my thoyghts to rhythms run,
20To rhyme, my wisdom and my wit?
21True, I consume my life in verse,
22But wouldst thou know how that is writ?
23'T is thus--through weary length of days,
24I bear a thought within my breast
25That greatens from my growth of soul,
26And waits, and will not be expressed.
27It greatens, till its hour has come,
28Not without pain, it sees the light;
29'Twixt smiles and tears I view it o'er,
30And dare not deem it perfect, quite.
31These children of my soul I keep
32Where scarce a mortal man may see,
33Yet not unconsecrate, dear friend,
34Baptismal rites they claim of thee.


9] Balaam: Old Testament prophet rebuked by the ass on which he was riding to fight for Israel. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.