Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1398. The Mother’s Song
By Virginia Woodward Cloud
  “Two women shall be grinding at the mill: the one shall be taken and the other left.”
ALL day and all day, as I sit at my measureless turning,
    They come and they go,—
The little ones down on the rocks,—and the sunlight is burning
    On vineyards below;
All day and all day, as I sit at my stone and am ceaselessly grinding,        5
    The almond boughs blow.
When she was here—O my first-born!—here, grinding and singing,
    My hand against hers,
What did I reck of the wind where the aloe is swinging,
    And the cypress vine stirs?        10
What of a bird to its little ones hastening, flying and crying,
    Through the dark of the firs?
When she was here—O my beautiful—here by me grinding,
    I saw not the glow
Of the grape; for the bloom of her face that the sunlight was finding,        15
    And the pomegranate blow
Of her mouth, and the joy of her eyes, and her voice like a dove to me singing,
    Made my garden agrow.
Was it I? Was it I for whom Death came seeking and calling
    When he found her so fair?        20
At the wheel, at the wheel, from dawn till the dew shall be falling,
    I will wait for him there.
Death! (I shall cry) I am old, but yon shadow of plums that are purpling
    Was the hue of her hair.
Death! (I shall cry) in the sound of the mill ever turning        25
    Till dark brings release,
Till the sun on the vineyards below me to crimson is burning,
    There is measure of peace;
For all day and all day—with the wheel—are her eyes to mine turning:
But, Death! (I shall call) take me hence ere the daylight its shadow is spurning!        30
Hence, ere the night-time can wrap me around with my tears and my yearning,—
    When the grinding shall cease!


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