Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: I. About Children
The Mitherless Bairn
William Thom (1799–1848)
   An Inverary correspondent writes: “Thom gave me the following narrative as to the origin of ‘The Mitherless Bairn’; I quote his own words. ‘When I was livin’ in Aberdeen, I was limpin’ roun’ the house to my garret, when I heard the greetin’ o’ a wean. A lassie was thumpin’ a bairn, when out cam a big dame, bellowin’, “Ye hussie, will ye lick a mitherless bairn!” I hobbled up the stair and wrote the sang afore sleepin’.’”

WHEN a’ ither bairnies are hushed to their hame
By aunty, or cousin, or frecky grand-dame,
Wha stands last and lanely, an’ naebody carin’?
’T is the puir doited loonie,—the mitherless bairn!
The mitherless bairn gangs to his lane bed;        5
Nane covers his cauld back, or haps his bare head;
His wee hackit heelies are hard as the airn,
An’ litheless the lair o’ the mitherless bairn.
Aneath his cauld brow siccan dreams hover there,
O’ hands that wont kindly to kame his dark hair;        10
But mornin’ brings clutches, a’ reckless an’ stern,
That lo’e nae the locks o’ the mitherless bairn!
Yon sister that sang o’er his saftly rocked bed
Now rests in the mools where her mammie is laid;
The father toils sair their wee bannock to earn,        15
An’ kens na the wrangs o’ his mitherless bairn.
Her spirit, that passed in yon hour o’ his birth,
Still watches his wearisome wanderings on earth;
Recording in heaven the blessings they earn
Wha couthilie deal wi’ the mitherless bairn!        20
O, speak him na harshly,—he trembles the while,
He bends to your bidding, and blesses your smile;
In their dark hour o’ anguish the heartless shall learn
That God deals the blow, for the mitherless bairn!

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