Elizabeth Akers Allen

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years! 
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—      
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,—   
Take them, and give me my childhood again! 
I have grown weary of dust and decay,—    
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away; 
Weary of sowing for others to reap;—    
Rock me to sleep, mother – rock me to sleep! 

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue, 
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you! 
Many a summer the grass has grown green, 
Blossomed and faded, our faces between: 
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain, 
Long I tonight for your presence again. 
Come from the silence so long and so deep;—    
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep! 

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures,—
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold, 
Fall on your shoulders again as of old; 
Let it drop over my forehead tonight, 
Shading my faint eyes away from the light; 
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more 
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore; 
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;—    
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep! 

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!