The Step Mother

Original Text: 
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library MS. 3080, holograph collection of poems, "Written for Agnes Dunbar FitzGibbon, with the love and blessing of her old Mother Susanna Moodie -- March -- 6th -- 1866."
1Well I recall my Father's wife,
2    The day he brought her home.
3His children looked for years of strife,
4    And troubles sure to come --
5Ungraciously we welcomed her,
6    A thing to scorn and blame;
7And swore we never would confer
8    On her, a Mother's name
9I see her yet -- a girl in years,
10    With eyes so blue and mild;
11She greeted us with smiles and tears,
12    How sweetly too she smiled --
13She bent to kiss my sullen brow,
14    With woman's gentle grace;
15And laid her tiny hand of snow
16    On my averted face --
17"Henry -- is this your son? She said --
18    "Dear boy -- he now is mine --
19What not one kiss? --" I shook my head,
20    "I am no son of thine! --"
21She sighed -- and from her dimpled cheek
22    The rosy colour fled;
23She turned away and did not speak,
24    My thoughts were with the dead --
25There leaped from out my Father's eyes
26    A jet of swarthy fire;
27That flashed on me in fierce surprise --
28    I fled before his ire
29I heard her gentle voice entreat --
30    "Forgiveness for her sake" --
31Which added swiftness to my feet,
32    A sad and strange mistake --
33A year had scarcely rolled away
34    When by that hated bride;
35I loved to linger half the day,
36    In very joy and pride;
37Her voice was music to mine ear,
38    So soft its accent fell;
39"Dear Mother now" -- and oh, how dear
40    No words of mine can tell --
41She was so gentle, fair and kind,
42    So pure in soul and free from art;
43That woman with her noble mind,
44    Subdued my rebel heart --
45I just had learned to know her worth,
46    My Father's second choice to bless;
47When God removed her from the earth,
48    And plunged us all in deep distress --
49Hot fever smote with burning blight
50    Stretchd on a restless bed of pain;
51I moaning lay from morn till night
52    With aching limbs and throbbing brain --
53Four weary weeks beside my bed,
54    She sat within a darkened room;
55Untiring held my aching head,
56    Nor heeded silence -- cold and gloom --
57And when my courage quite gave way,
58    And fainter grew my struggling breath;
59She taught my stricken soul to pray
60    And calmly meet approaching death --
61"Fear not God's angel, sent by Him,
62    The weary spirit to release;
63Before the mortal eyes grow dim,
64    Floats down the white winged dove of peace" --
65There came a change -- but fingers small,
66    No longer smoothed my matted hair;
67She sprang not to my feeble call,
68    Nor helped to lift me to my chair --
69And I arose as from the dead,
70    A life for her dear life was given;
71The angel who had watched my bed
72    Had vanished into Heaven! --
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.