"My Mother." by Ann Taylor (1782-1866)
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung sweet hushaby,
And rock'd me that I should not cry?
Who sat and watch'd my infant head,
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gaz'd upon my heavy eye,
And wept, for fear that I should die?
Who drest my doll in clothes so gay,
And taught me pretty how to play,
And minded all I had to say?
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
Who taught my infant lips to pray,
And love God's holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom's pleasant way?
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me,
Ah! no, the thought I cannot bear;
And if God please my life to spare,
I hope I shall reward thy care,
When thou art feeble, old, and gray,
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away,
And when I see thee hang thy head,
'Twill be my turn to watch thy bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed,
For God, who lives above the skies,
Would look with vengeance in His eyes,
If I should ever dare despise,
Years later, in response to criticsm, Ann Taylor suggested an alternate form for the last verse.
For could our Father in the skies
Look down with pleased or loving eyes,
If ever I could dare despise
My Mother. (Armitage, p. 183)
"Young as I was when the original was written, I did not see, as I do now, its incongruity in tone with those preceding it. Still, I believe that all moral evil is sin; that all sin incurs the divine displeasure; but vengeance is a word I would not now employ. " (Armitage, p. 184)