You call authority "a grievous thing."
With careless hands you snap the leading string,
And, for a frolic (so it seems to you),
Put off the old love, and put on the new.
For "What does Mother know of love?" you say.
"Did her soul ever thrill?
Did little tendernesses ever creep
Into her dreams, and over-ride her will?
Did her eyes shine, or her heart ever leap
As my heart leaps to-day?
I, who am young; who long to try my wings!
How should she understand,
She, with her calm cool hand?
She never felt such yearnings? And, beside,
It's clear I can't be tied
For ever to my mother's apron strings."
There are Infinities of Knowledge, dear.
And there are mysteries, not yet made clear
To you, the Uninitiate. . . . Life's book
Is open, yes; but you may only look
At its first section. Youth
Is part, not all, the truth.
It is impossible that you should see
The end from the beginning perfectly.
You answer: "Even so.
But how can Mother know,
Who meditates upon the price of bacon?
On 'liberties' the charwoman has taken,
And on the laundry's last atrocities?
She knows her cookery book,
And how a joint of English meat should look.
But all such things as these
Make up her life. She dwells in tents, but I
In a vast temple open to the sky."
Yet, time was, when that Mother stooped to learn
The language written in your infant face.
For years she walked your pace,
And none but she interpreted your chatter.
Who else felt interest in such pitter-patter?
Or, weary, joined in all your games with zest,
And managed with a minimum of rest?
Now, is it not your turn
To bridge the gulf, to span the gap between you?
To-day, before Death's angel over-lean you,
Before your chance is gone?
This is worth thinking on.
"Are mothers blameless, then?" Nay, dearie, nay.
Nor even tactful, always. Yet there may
Come some grey dawning in the by and by,
When, no more brave, nor sure, nor strong, you'll cry
Aloud to God, for that despised thing,
The old dear comfort -- Mother's apron string.