In many countries around the world, Mother’s Day is in May.
Below is a quaint poem I found called “My Mother”. It was written by Ann Taylor (1783 –1866). She’s the sister of Jane Taylor, the author of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Ann and Jane published books of rhymes and poems together.
The illustrations below were done by Walter Crane. Here’s what Crane wrote about it in 1910:
“My Mother” is mid-Victorian-just after crinolines had gone out-but mothers are always in fashion, bless them…
Crinolines are so old-fashioned that many of us in the 21st century are no longer familiar with the word! Crinolines were hoop petticoats worn under skirts to give them a wide round shape. They were often made out of steel to support and widen the look of the skirt. Ladies, let’s all be glad we’re not too familiar with this word!
So here’s the poem with Cranes sweet illustrations…
Who fed me from her gentle breast,
And hush’d me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung sweet hushaby,
And rock’d me that I should not cry?
Who sat and watched my infant head,
When sleeping in my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gazed upon my heavy eye,
And wept for fear that I should die?
Who dress’d my doll in clothes so gay,
And taught me pretty how to play.
And minded all I had to say?
Who taught my infant lips to pray,
And love God’s holy book and day.
And walk in Wisdom’s pleasant way?
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who was so very kind to me?
Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear;
And if God please my life to spare,
I hope I shall reward thy care,
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
When thou art feeble, old, and gray,
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away.
And when I see thee hang thy head,
‘Twill be my turn to watch thy bed.
And tears of sweet affection shed,
For God, who lives above the skies,
Would look with vengeance in His eyes,
If I should ever dare despise
[Note from Mama Lisa: Taylor later softened the last verse, changing it to the following.]
For could our Father in the skies
Look down with pleased or loving eyes,
If ever I could dare despise
UPDATE: Part of this poem is sung in Cameroon, Africa as a children’s song.
P.S. Here are some other posts about Mother’s Day, including other poems:
This article was posted on Sunday, May 4th, 2008 at 4:42 pm and is filed under Ann Taylor, Australia, Canada, Countries & Cultures, Crinoline, England, English, Holidays Around the World, Jane Taylor, Languages, Mama Lisa, Mother's Day Poems, Mothers Day, My Mother, Poems, Poetry, Poets, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Poem, United Kingdom, USA, Words & Phrases. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
58 Responses to ““My Mother” a Victorian Poem”
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May 12th, 2012 at 3:31 am
tomorow sun.13-5-2012 is our church mothers day@ cgm int’lDH2 abeokuta.the children and the choir’ll sing dis poem2all mamas.i know a little of dis poem,i can now see other stanza,am a teacher i’ll also teach my pupils @school.
May 16th, 2012 at 4:16 am
So pretty good to have such a long awaiting poem back again. So affectionate even while the rhymes last. It makes me remember my mother all the time and i know it will be my tribute for her when she will die.
September 30th, 2012 at 6:11 am
May d soul of Ann Taylor rest in perfect peace
May God bless her, bless Mama Lisa and bless all the MOTHERS of this world…
Lets give peace a chance, love peace and preach peace…PEACE!
November 8th, 2012 at 12:30 pm
she is the best whom can i trust & she is my life without her i am nothing
December 2nd, 2012 at 7:55 am
i love my mother a lot and my mother is my best freind…..
May 10th, 2013 at 11:08 am
On Tuesday, 5th of February,1985 I lost my mom to cancer. I can recall as a child, that I stood close to the window on 10th of February same year with tears in my eyes because it was my 10th birthday and my mom was not there as promised to celebrate with me; and mostly because nobody remembered.
I sat down with tears in my eyes and my poem book at hand, reciting this wonderful poem; realising that my healthy arms shall never be her stay and I shall never soothe her pains away.
I remember all we did in our short 10 years together and I will forever cherish the memories in a golden place in my heart.
March 30th, 2014 at 6:23 am
Thank you so much for sharing.love d memories it brings,mum is gone but her tough love moulded me into d woman I ve become. Happy mothers day to all mothers out there. RIP Lisa Taylor n mum Dorathy Nwankwo.
November 6th, 2017 at 4:17 am
I have been looking for this poem for over fifty years. I recorded this on an old reel to reel for my mom for Mother’s Day in 1966. Thank you and God bless you. Shalom!