The Child’s Address to the Kentucky Mummy

By Hannah F. Gould 1789–1865
And now, Mistress Mummy, since thus you’ve been found
   By the world, that has long done without you,
In your snug little hiding-place far under ground—
Be pleased to speak out, as we gather around,
   And let us hear something about you!

By the style of your dress you are not Madam Eve—   
   You of course had a father and mother;
No more of your line have we power to conceive,
As you furnish us nothing by which to believe
   You had husband, child, sister, or brother.

We know you have lived, though we cannot tell when,
   And that too by eating and drinking,
To judge by your teeth, and the lips you had then
And we see you are one of the children of men,
   Though long from their looks you’ve been shrinking.

Who was it that made you a cavern so deep,
   Refused your poor head a last pillow,
And bad you sit still when you’d sunken to sleep,
And they’d bound you and muffled you up in a heap
   Of clothes made of hempen and willow?

Say, whose was the ear that could hear with delight
   The musical trinket found nigh you?
And who had the eye that was pleased with the sight
Of this form (whose queer face might be brown, red, or white,)
   Trick’d out in the jewels kept by you?

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Hannah F. Gould 1789–1865

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living


Born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, poet Hannah Flagg Gould moved with her family to Newburyport in 1808. Her mother died while Gould was a child, and Gould took over caring for her father, Benjamin Gould, a veteran who had led Union soldiers in the Battle of Lexington.

Gould began composing poems in her 30s, and her first book, Poems (1832), was published by friends without her knowledge. Gould published another 10 volumes of . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.