Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Humorous Poems: IV. Ingenuities: Oddities
Motherhood
Charles Stuart Calverley (1831–1884)
 
SHE laid it where the sunbeams fall
Unscanned upon the broken wall.
Without a tear, without a groan,
She laid it near a mighty stone,
Which some rude swain had haply cast        5
Thither in sport, long ages past,
And time with mosses had o’erlaid,
And fenced with many a tall grass-blade,
And all about bid roses bloom
And violets shed their soft perfume.        10
There, in its cool and quiet bed,
She set her burden down and fled:
Nor flung, all eager to escape,
One glance upon the perfect shape,
That lay, still warm and fresh and fair,        15
But motionless and soundless there.
No human eye had marked her pass
Across the linden-shadowed grass
Ere yet the minster clock chimed seven:
Only the innocent birds of heaven—        20
The magpie, and the rook whose nest
Swings as the elm-tree waves his crest—
And the lithe cricket, and the hoar
And huge-limbed hound that guards the door,
Looked on when, as a summer wind        25
That, passing, leaves no trace behind,
All unapparelled, barefoot all,
She ran to that old ruined wall,
To leave upon the chill dank earth
(For ah! she never knew its worth),        30
Mid hemlock rank, and fern and ling,
And dews of night, that precious thing!
And then it might have lain forlorn
From morn to eve, from eve to morn:
But, that, by some wild impulse led,        35
The mother, ere she turned and fled,
One moment stood erect and high;
Then poured into the silent sky
A cry so jubilant, so strange,
That Alice—as she strove to range        40
Her rebel ringlets at her glass—
Sprang up and gazed across the grass;
Shook back those curls so fair to see,
Clapped her soft hands in childish glee;
And shrieked—her sweet face all aglow,        45
  Her very limbs with rapture shaking—
“My hen has laid an egg, I know;
  And only hear the noise she ’s making!”
 
 
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