In Depth

Mother’s Day poems: seven classics in honour of mums

Perfect poetry for inspiration on Mothering Sunday

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With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many people want to give something back to the woman who raised them, beyond the classic scented candle.

For some families, responsibility for the preparations will fall on the most conscientious sibling, with the others scribbling their name at the bottom of a card that their more thoughtful sister or brother has bought.

So to relieve the additional burden of finding the right words to say, here are some lines you can borrow from a collection of famous poets and their celebrated works on mothers.

To My Mother, by Edgar Allan Poe

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,The angels, whispering to one another,Can find, among their burning terms of love,None so devotional as that of “Mother,”Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—You who are more than mother unto me,And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed youIn setting my Virginia's spirit free.My mother—my own mother, who died early,Was but the mother of myself; but youAre mother to the one I loved so dearly,And thus are dearer than the mother I knewBy that infinity with which my wifeWas dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

Tintype on the Pond, by J. Lorraine Brown

Believe it or not, the old woman said,and I tried to picture it: a girl, the polished white ribs of a roast tied to her boots with twine, the twine coated with candle wax so she could glide uninterrupted across the ice— my mother, skating on bones.

Sonnets Are Full of Love, by Christina Rossetti

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome      Has many sonnets: so here now shall be   One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from meTo her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,   To my first Love, my Mother, on whose kneeI learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;   Whose service is my special dignity,And she my loadstar while I go and come.And so because you love me, and because   I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath      Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honoured name:      In you not fourscore years can dim the flameOf love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws   Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Mother, by Lola Ridge

Your love was like moonlightturning harsh things to beauty,so that little wry soulsreflecting each other obliquelyas in cracked mirrors...beheld in your luminous spirittheir own reflection,transfigured as in a shining stream,and loved you for what they are not.You are less an image in my mindthan a lusterI see you in gleamspale as star-light on a gray wall...evanescent as the reflection of a white swanshimmering in broken water.

Poems Done on a Late Night Car, by Carl Sandburg

III. HOMEHere is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:  I heard it in the air of one night when I listened  To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.

Mother o’ Mine, by Rudyard Kipling

If I were hanged on the highest hill,Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!I know whose love would follow me still,Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!If I were drowned in the deepest sea,Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!I know whose tears would come down to me,Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!If I were damned of body and soul,I know whose prayers would make me whole,Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

To a Child, by Sophie Jewett

The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;   Hearken the tale they told:How in some far-off place and year,   Before the world grew old,I was a dreaming forest tree,   You were a wild, sweet birdWho sheltered at the heart of me   Because the north wind stirred;How, when the chiding gale was still,   When peace fell soft on fear,You stayed one golden hour to fill   My dream with singing, dear.To-night the self-same songs are sung   The first green forest heard;My heart and the gray world grow young—   To shelter you, my bird.

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