“The Mother” by Edith Sitwell

The Mother


Our dreams create the babes we bear;
Our beauty goes to make them fair.
We give them all we have of good,
Our blood to drink, our hearts for food;

And in our souls they lie and rest
Until upon their mother's breast
So innocent and sweet they lie.
They live to curse us; then they die.

When he was born, it seemed the spring
Had come again with birds to sing
And blossoms dancing in the sun
Where streams released from winter run.

His sunlit hair was all my gold;
His loving eyes my wealth untold.
All heaven was hid within the breast
Whereon my child was laid to rest.

He grew to manhood. Then one came
False-hearted as Hell's blackest shame,
To steal my child from me, and thrust
The soul I loved down to the dust.

Her hungry, wicked lips were red
As that dark blood my son's hand shed ;
Her eyes were black as Hell's own night,
Her ice-cold breast was winter-white.—

I had put by a little gold
To bury me when I was cold.
Her fanged, wanton kiss to buy
My son's love willed that I should die.

[ . . . ]

Edith Sitwell's poem "The Mother" was published in the first "cycle" of Wheels in 1916. To read this poem in full in a digitized version of this publication, follow the links below:


The Modernist Journals Project

Librivox audio recording hosted on Archive.org