Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Extracts from Poems by the Way: Mother and Son
By William Morris (1834–1896)
 
LO, amidst London I lift thee,
and how little and light thou art,
And thou without hope or fear,
thou fear and hope of my heart!
Lo here thy body beginning,        5
O son, and thy soul and thy life;
But how will it be if thou livest,
and enterest into the strife,
And in love we dwell together
when the man is grown in thee,        10
When thy sweet speech I shall hearken,
and yet ’twixt thee and me
Shall rise that wall of distance,
that round each one doth grow,
And maketh it hard and bitter        15
each other’s thought to know.
Now, therefore, while yet thou art little
and hast no thought of thine own,
I will tell thee a word of the world;
of the hope whence thou hast grown,        20
Of the love that once begat thee,
of the sorrow that hath made
Thy little heart of hunger,
and thy hands on my bosom laid.
Then mayst thou remember hereafter,        25
as whiles when people say
All this hath happened before
in the life of another day;
So mayst thou dimly remember
this tale of thy mother’s voice,        30
As oft in the calm of dawning
I have heard the birds rejoice,
As oft I have heard the storm-wind
go moaning through the wood;
And I knew that earth was speaking,        35
and the mother’s voice was good.
 
Now, to thee alone will I tell it
that thy mother’s body is fair,
In the guise of the country maidens
who play with the sun and the air;        40
Who have stood in the row of the reapers
in the August afternoon,
Who have sat by the frozen water
in the high day of the moon,
When the lights of the Christmas feasting        45
were dead in the house on the hill,
And the wild geese gone to the salt-marsh
had left the winter still.
Yea, I am fair, my firstling;
if thou couldst but remember me!        50
The hair that thy small hand clutcheth
is a goodly sight to see;
I am true, but my face is a snare;
soft and deep are my eyes,
And they seem for men’s beguiling        55
fulfilled with the dreams of the wise.
Kind are my lips, and they look
as though my soul had learned
Deep things I have never heard of.
My face and my hands are burned        60
By the lovely sun of the acres;
three months of London town
And thy birth-bed have bleached them indeed,
“But lo, where the edge of the gown”
(So said thy father) “is parting        65
the wrist that is white as the curd
From the brown of the hand that I love,
bright as the wing of a bird.”
 
 
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