13 May 2018 – Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

Below – James McNeill Whistler: “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1” (“Whistler’s Mother”)


A Poem for Mother’s Day

“To a Child”
by Sophie Jewett

The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
Hearken the tale they told:
How in some far-off place and year,
Before the world grew old,

I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;

How, when the chiding gale was still,
When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
My dream with singing, dear.

To-night the self-same songs are sung
The first green forest heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young—
To shelter you, my bird.

Art for Mother’s Day – Gustav Klimt: “Mother and Child”

Musings on Mother’s Day: Gail Tsukiyama

“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”

Art for Mother’s Day – Mary Cassatt: “Mother and Child”


A Poem for Mother’s Day

“Rock Me to Sleep”
by Elizabeth Akers Allen

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,—
Take them, and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay,—
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap;—
Rock me to sleep, mother – rock me to sleep!

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures,—
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead tonight,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!


Art for Mother’s Day – Edmund Charles Tarbell: “Mother and Child in a Boat”

Musings on Mother’s Day: Cammie McGovern

“This is what we do, my mother’s life said. We find ourselves in the sacrifices we make.”

Art for Mother’s Day – Georges Laugee: “A Mother Holding Her Child”

A Poem for Mother’s Day

“Not Here”
by Jane Kenyon

Searching for pillowcases trimmed
with lace that my mother-in-law
once made, I open the chest of drawers
upstairs to find that mice
have chewed the blue and white linen
dishtowels to make their nest,
and bedded themselves
among embroidered dresser scarves
and fingertip towels.

Tufts of fibers, droppings like black
caraway seeds, and the stains of birth
and afterbirth give off the strong
unforgettable attar of mouse
that permeates an old farmhouse
on humid summer days.

A couple of hickory nuts
roll around as I lift out
the linens, while a hail of black
sunflower shells
falls on the pillowcases,
yellow with age, but intact.
I’ll bleach them and hang them in the sun
to dry. There’s almost no one left
who knows how to crochet lace….

The bright-eyed squatters are not here.
They’ve scuttled out to the fields
for summer, as they scuttled in
for winter—along the wall, from chair
to skirted chair, making themselves
flat and scarce while the cat
dozed with her paws in the air,
and we read the mail
or evening paper, unaware.

Art for Mother’s Day – Berte Morisot: “The Cradle”


Musings on Mother’s Day: Donna Ball

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”

Art for Mother’s Day – Pablo Picasso: “Portrait of the Mother of the Artist”

A Poem for Mother’s Day

“Tintype on the Pond, 1925”
By J. Lorraine Brown

Believe it or not,
the old woman said,
and I tried to picture it:
a girl,
the polished white ribs of a roast
tied to her boots with twine,
the twine coated with candle wax
so she could glide
uninterrupted
across the ice—
my mother,
skating on bones.

Art for Mother’s Day – Eastman Johnson: “Mother and Child”

Musings on Mother’s Day: Adriana Trigiani

“No one worries about you like your mother, and when she is gone, the world seems unsafe, things that happen unwieldy. You cannot turn to her anymore, and it changes your life forever. There is no one on earth who knew you from the day you were born; who knew why you cried, or when you’d had enough food; who knew exactly what to say when you were hurting; and who encouraged you to grow a good heart. When that layer goes, whatever is left of your childhood goes with her.”

Art for Mother’s Day – Adolphe Jourdan: “A Mother’s Embrace”


A Poem for Mother’s Day

“Your Clothes”
by Judith Kroll

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.

Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,

they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.

Art for Mother’s Day – Hippolyte Camille Delpy: “Mother and Child in the Garden”


Musings on Mother’s Day: Theodore Hesburgh

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

Art for Mother’s Day – Edward Hopper: “Elizabeth Griffith Smith Hopper, The Artist’s Mother”


A Poem for Mother’s Day

‘“What I Learned From My Mother”
by Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Art for Mother’s Day – Paul Gauguin: “Tahitian Woman and Two Children”

A Poem for Mother’s Day

“A Dandelion for My Mother”
by Jean Nordhaus

How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems.   Like you.
Like you, in the end.   If you were here,
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.

Art for Mother’s Day – Frederick Lord Leighton: “Mother and Child”

A Poem for Mother’s Day

“To Any Reader”
by Robert Louis Stevenson

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

Art for Mother’s Day – Claude Monet: “Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil”

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