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God frightens me. He's strange. I know

Him not. And all my usual prayers I have forgot: But you—you had a son — I remember now! You are not Mary of the virgin brow! You agonized for Jesus! You went down Into the ugly depths for him. Your crown Is my crown! I've seen you in the street,

, Begging your way for broken bread and

meat: I've seen you in trams, in shops, among old

faces, Young eyes, brave lips, broad backs, in all

the places Where women work, and weep, in pain, in

pride. Your hands were gnarled that held him

when he died ! Not the fair hands that painters give you,

white And slim. You never had such hands: night And day you laboured, night and day, from

child To woman. You were never soft and mild, But strong-limbed, patient, brown-skinned

from the sun, Deep-bosomed, brave-eyed, holy, holy One! I know you now! I seek you, Mary! Spread Your compassionate skirts! I bring to you This was my man. I bore him. I did not

my dead!

know Then how he crowned me, but I felt it so. He was my all the world. I loved him best When he was helpless, clamouring at my

breast. Mothers are made like that. You'll under

stand Who held your Jesus helpless in your hand And loved his impotence. But as he grew I watched him, always jealously, I knew Each line of his young body, every tone Of speech; his pains, his triumphs were my

own. I saw the down come on his cheeks with

dread, And soon I had to reach to hold his head 7 And stroke his mop of hair. I watched his eyes When women crossed his ways, and I was

wise For him who had no wisdom. He was young, And loathed my care, and lashed me with

youth's tongue. Splendidly merciless, casual of age, his scorn Was sweet to me of whom his strength was

born. Besides, when he was more than six

foot tall He kept the smile he had when he was small !

And still no woman had him. I was glad Of that - and then O God! The world ran

mad! Almost before I knew, this noise was war; Death and not women took the son I bore ...

You'll know him when you see him: first of

all Because he 'll smile that way when he was

small;

And then his eyes! They never changed

from blue To duller grey, as other children's do, But like his childish dreams he kept his

eyes Vivid, and deeply clear, and vision wise. Seek for him, Mary! Bright among the

ghosts Of other women's sons he 'll star those hosts Of shining boys! (He always topped his

class At school!) Lean forward, Mary, as they

pass, And touch him! When you see his eyes

you 'll weep And think him your own Jesus! Let him

sleep In your deep bosom, Mary, then you 'll

see

His lashes, how they curl, so childishly

You 'll weep again, and rock him on your

heart As I did once, that night we had to part. He'll come to you all bloody and be-mired, But let him sleep, my dear, for he'll be tired, And very shy. If he'd come home to me I would n't ask the neighbours in to tea . . He always hated crowds ... I'd let him

be.

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And then perhaps you 'll take him by the

hand And comfort him from fear when he must

stand Before God's dreadful throne; then, will you

call That boy whose bullet made my darling fall, And take him by the other hand, and say “ O God, whose Son the hands of men did

slay, These are Thy children who do take away The sins of the world. ..

Irene Rutherford McLeod

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AN ENGLISH MOTHER 1

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EVERY week of every season out of English

ports go forth, White of sail or white of trail, East, or West,

or South, or North, Scattering like a flight of pigeons, half a

hundred home-sick ships, Bearing half a hundred striplings — each with

kisses on his lips Of some silent mother, fearful lest she shows

herself too fond, Giving him to bush or desert as one pays a

sacred bond, — Tell us, you who hide your heartbreak,

which is sadder, when all 's done, To repine an English mother, or to roam, an

English son ?

You who shared your babe's first sorrow when

his cheek no longer pressed On the perfect, snow-and-roseleaf beauty of

your mother-breast, In the rigor of his nurture was your woman's

mercy mute, Knowing he was doomed to exile with the

savage and the brute ? 1 By permission of the author, Robert Underwood Johnson. From Saint-Gaudens and other Poems. Copyright, 1908, by Robert Underwood Johnson.

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