Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
 
The First Food
 
George Sterling
 
 
MOTHER, in some sad evening long ago,
  From thy young breast my groping lips were taken,
  Their hunger stilled, so soon again to waken,
But nevermore that holy food to know.
 
Ah! nevermore! for all the child might crave!        5
  Ah! nevermore! through years unkind and dreary!
  Often of other fare my lips are weary,
Unwearied once of what thy bosom gave.
 
(Poor wordless mouth that could not speak thy name!
  At what unhappy revels has it eaten        10
  The viands that no memory can sweeten,—
The banquet found eternally the same!)
 
Then fell a shadow first on thee and me,
  And tendrils broke that held us two how dearly!
  Once infinitely thine, then hourly, yearly,        15
Less thine, as less the worthy thine to be.
 
(O mouth that yet should kiss the mouth of Sin!
  Were lies so sweet, now bitter to remember?
  Slow sinks the flame unfaithful to an ember;
New beauty fades and passion’s wine is thin.)        20
 
How poor an end of that solicitude
  And all the love I had not from another!
  Peace to thine unforgetting heart, O Mother,
Who gav’st the dear and unremembered food!
 

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