Heard you that shriek? It rose*
-----So wildly on the air,
It seemed as if a burden'd heart
----- Was breaking in despair.
Saw you those hands so sadly clasped--
-----The bowed and feeble heart--
The shuddering of that fragile form--
-----That look of grief and dread?
Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
-----Its every glance was pain,
As if a storm of agony
-----Were sweeping through the brain.
She is a mother, pale with fear,
-----Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kirtle vainly tries
-----His trembling form to hide.
He is not hers, although she bore
-----For him a mother's pain;
He is not hers, although her blood
-----Is coursing through his veins!
He is not hers, for cruel hands
-----May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
-----That binds her breaking heart.
His love has been a joyous light
-----That o'er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
-----Amid life's desert wild.
His lightest word has been a tone
-----Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one--
-----Oh, Father! must they part?
They tear him from her circling arms,
-----Her last and fond embrace.
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
-----Gaze on his mournful face.
No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
-----Disturb the listening air:
She is a mother, and her heart
-----Is breaking in despair.First published in Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854)
About Frances Ellen Watkins Harper