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New York Public Library

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Rock Me to Sleep

BACKWARD, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
 Make me a child again just for to-night!
 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 to-night 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 to-night,
 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!
Elizabeth Akers Allen [1832?1911]