Words to My Mother
Come down, O mother mine, say I,
from your bright eyrie in the sky.
Seraphic beauty, puissant look
you have, and that’s why I mistook
you for a goddess there, all gold;
face young as spring, wise as the old.
I don’t care how far off you stay,
so long as there’s always a way —
a silent route, no doubt quite fair —
for you to come to me from there.
You contemplate vast worlds; e’en so,
you love me too? I want to know.
Your eyes cleave all infinity;
can they pierce through the void to me?
Your tresses stream out in the wind —
I want to touch them, and rescind
the words of others that you are
unknown and distant as a star.
Your rose lips gently smile within;
can they smile down to far-off kin?
Can laughter-bubbles from them part,
come down, and burst within this heart?
Can your voice, sweet but strong as wind,
break down the walls that men call sin?
Can your hand, soft as dew, reach down
and lift my mind, before it drown
in deathly vision? I am all
undone, and caught within its thrall.
My lips are stricken; cannot shout
for aid. So you must help me out
before I slip, in last despair,
to the abysses waiting there.
My words may hold no weight with you.
Their strength is spent. But if you knew
and felt the need within me still,
perhaps you’d come of your free will.
I cannot give you flowers, gifts;
I cannot e’en my voice uplift
to call you properly, and ask:
please observe what’s come to pass.
Because I am earthbound, unfree,
I must ask you to come to me.
Can no call waken you from bliss,
that you take note of things amiss?
My voice is choked by knowledge that
I’m such a wastrel. Here I sat
and drew down ruin all ‘round me,
and now I suffer. Do you see?
I’d sought pure joy, then was distressed
to find that pleasures I loved best
to mind’s satiety all led,
to soul’s mute pain. Illusion fled.
To you I turned; no shaft I’d fling
could bring joy down from wandering.
A thousand griefs have swelled and bled
their darkness through and through my head.
My eyes are burning, spent and dry,
for all their tears gushed to the sky
in long upsurges that fell short
of their far goal. All toils abort.
I have not died. But can’t desire
to live where every streaming fire
you send out from your central spark
falls down extinct in mortal dark.
My heart’s incentive, all of my
impulse for life, you must supply.
Deny me not. O darling mum,
faint wisps of deep-toned songs you hum
reach me, confirm that singers here
have no real art; grief can’t alloy
with feckless, transient earthly joy.
I came by it to the final choice:
to listen only to your voice.
I cannot pray. I cannot see
through this web to infinity
to place petitions at your feet.
But if you feel, my mother sweet,
my need, you’ll part eternity
in plunge to earth to succor me.
O mother mine, won’t you comply?
Come down from your nook in the sky.
Men long to reach you, but can’t ride
the storm-clouds that your presence hide.
In this lost land, come, leave your mark,
and kiss my forehead in the dark.