Mother Mind

By Julia Ward Howe 1819–1910 Julia Ward Howe
I never made a poem, dear friend—
I never sat me down, and said,
This cunning brain and patient hand
Shall fashion something to be read.

Men often came to me, and prayed
I should indite a fitting verse
For fast, or festival, or in
Some stately pageant to rehearse.
(As if, than Balaam more endowed,
I of myself could bless or curse.)

Reluctantly I bade them go,
Ungladdened by my poet-mite;
My heart is not so churlish but
Its loves to minister delight.

But not a word I breathe is mine
To sing, in praise of man or God;
My Master calls, at noon or night,
I know his whisper and his nod.

Yet all my thoyghts to rhythms run,
To rhyme, my wisdom and my wit?
True, I consume my life in verse,
But wouldst thou know how that is writ?

'T is thus—through weary length of days,
I bear a thought within my breast
That greatens from my growth of soul,
And waits, and will not be expressed.

It greatens, till its hour has come,
Not without pain, it sees the light;
'Twixt smiles and tears I view it o'er,
And dare not deem it perfect, quite.

These children of my soul I keep
Where scarce a mortal man may see,
Yet not unconsecrate, dear friend,
Baptismal rites they claim of thee.

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Poet Julia Ward Howe 1819–1910

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Julia  Ward Howe

Biography

Julia Ward Howe, a social reformer, is most remembered for her Civil War-era song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." In many respects, Howe was a female pioneer, particularly in literature and women's rights. Howe wrote many books, including collections of poetry and travel volumes. She, along with women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was a cofounder of the women's suffrage movement. In addition to lobbying . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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