Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Childless Woman
By Harriet Monroe
From “Poems of Travel”

O MOTHER of that heap of clay, so passive on your breast,
Now do you stare at death, woman, who yesterday were blest?
Now do you long to fare afar, and guide him on the way
Where he must wander all alone, his little feet astray?
        But I now, but I now—        5
            Sons of me seven and seven
        The high God seals upon the brow,
            And summons from his heaven.
Blest as a bride were you, woman, that time of years agone,
When love, giver of life, came close and led you to his throne.        10
And blest were you—have you forgot?—when through the moons of pain
The life love-given tugged at your heart and bound you with its chain.
        But I now, but I now—
            Seared by the high God’s scorn—
        Lives that will never come to birth        15
            Body of me has borne.
And when the hour was come, woman, your dark and perilous hour,
When the twin spirits, Death and Life, clutched you with jealous power,
Rent by their war, you lay half lost, until a baby’s cry
Summoned you forth past world on world to sit with God on high.        20
        But I now, but I now—
            Never my baby’s voice
        Has called me forth from vales of woe
            With seraphs to rejoice.
You in your arms have clasped him, woman, and fed him at your breast.        25
You sang him little songs at night, and lulled him to his rest.
The ages gone were yours then, and yours the years to be.
You gave him of your hope and saw the light no eye shall see.
        But I now, but I now—
            Sons of me born in dream        30
        Cry out for robes of flesh; I see
            Their wistful eyes agleam.
O mother of that heap of clay so passive on your breast—
Now do you stare at death, woman?—nay, peace, for you are blest.
Blest are you in your joy, woman, blest are you in your pain—        35
Once more he calls you past the worlds to sit with God again.
        But I now, but I now—
            Sons of me nine and nine,
        That looked on life and death with me,
            Are neither God’s nor mine.        40

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