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: V. The Home
Tired Mothers
May Riley Smith (1842?–1927)
A LITTLE elbow leans upon your knee,
  Your tired knee that has so much to bear;
A child’s dear eyes are looking lovingly
  From underneath a thatch of tangled hair.
Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch        5
  Of warm, moist fingers, folding yours so tight;
You do not prize this blessing overmuch,—
  You almost are too tired to pray to-night.
But it is blessedness! a year ago
  I did not see it as I do to-day—        10
We are so dull and thankless; and too slow
  To catch the sunshine till it slips away.
And now it seems surpassing strange to me,
  That, while I wore the badge of motherhood,
I did not kiss more oft and tenderly        15
  The little child that brought me only good.
And if, some night when you sit down to rest,
  You miss this elbow from your tired knee,—
This restless curling head from off your breast,—
  This lisping tongue that chatters constantly;        20
If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
  And ne’er would nestle in your palm again;
If the white feet into the grave had tripped,
  I could not blame you for your heartache then.
I wonder so that mothers ever fret        25
  At little children clinging to their gown;
Or that the footprints, when the days are wet,
  Are ever black enough to make them frown.
If I could find a little muddy boot,
  Or cap, or jacket, on my chamber-floor,—        30
If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,
  And hear it patter in my house once more,—
If I could mend a broken cart to-day,
  To-morrow make a kite to reach the sky,
There is no woman in God’s world could say        35
  She was more blissfully content than I.
But ah! the dainty pillow next my own
  Is never rumpled by a shining head;
My singing birdling from its nest is flown,—
  The little boy I used to kiss is dead!        40

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