Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Mother
By George W. Patten
“SHE sleeps! how long she sleeps! the sun hath sunk beneath the west,
And risen twice, yet still she keeps that deep and placid rest.
Why do they pass before me thus, her slumbering form to view?
Come hither, brother, thou and I will gaze upon her too;
But stay! we will not look there yet, but let us wait until        5
The midnight stars are beaming bright, and all around is still,
Save when the moaning winds sweep by in whispers low and deep,
And then together we will go and view her in her sleep.”
“Sister! tread softly! hark! that sound! ’t was but the midnight hour
Tolling so harsh and heavily from yonder distant tower;        10
Come, sister, tremble not, ’t is true the time is lone and drear,
And dimly burns the taper dark that sits beside the bier;
But thou didst breathe a prayer to me, a whisper’d prayer but now,
To come at midnight hour and gaze upon thy mother’s brow.
This is the hour, and we have pass’d along the silent hall,        15
And thus, as by the dead we stand, I take away the pall—
And here the coffin’s lid I move—and here I raise the veil—
Turn, gentle sister, turn and look upon her features pale;
Stoop down and kiss her pallid cheek—though cold and damp it be,
It is the same which in thy mirth so oft was press’d by thee.        20
And clasp in thine the lifeless hand that lays upon her breast,
Where pillow’d in thine infant years thou oft hast sunk to rest.”
“My eyes grow dim!—sweet brother, haste! and come with me away!
Is this the form which once I loved! this ghastly thing of clay?
They told me that she only slept—and that she still was fair,        25
As when upon her brow I used to part her raven hair.
Is this my mother?—No, oh! no,—not this on which I ’ve gazed,
Her eyes were bright like angel’s eyes, but these are fix’d and glazed,
Her lips were smiling like the sky that never knew a cloud;
But these are silent, closed and pale—pale as the winding shroud.        30
My eyes grow dim, sweet brother, haste and come with me away—
No, this is not the form I loved—this ghastly thing of clay.”

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