It's definitely time to steer clear of the Hamlet quotations for Mother's Day. As I tried to recall a great poem about mothers or motherhood, I found myself coming up strangely empty--I'm sure I must be overlooking many (Retriever, help me out here--and Happy Mother's Day to you). Yet as I've speculated here before, the annals of great artists and writers who were also mothers are brief, and those few that do come to mind--Sylvia Plath for one--give one pause. It would appear that young 'uns tend to drown out the muse.
So I came up with this, an excerpt from Wallace Stevens's "Auroras of Autumn:"
Farewell to an idea...The mother's face,
The purpose of the poem, fills the room.
They are together, here, and it is warm,
With none of the prescience of oncoming dreams,
It is evening. The house is evening, half dissolved,
Only the half they can never possess remains,
Still-starred. It is the mother they possess,
Who gives transparence to their present peace.
She makes that gentler that can gentle be.
And yet she too is dissolved, she is destroyed.
She gives transparence. But she has grown old.
The necklace is a carving not a kiss.
The soft hands are a motion not a touch.
The house will crumble and the books will burn.
They are at ease in a shelter of the mind
And the house is of the mind and they and time,
Together, all together. Boreal night
Will look like frost as it approaches them
And to the mother as she falls asleep
And as they say good-night, good-night. Upstairs
The windows will be lighted, not the rooms.
A wind will spread its windy grandeurs round
And knock lilke a rifle-butt against the door.
The wind will command them with invincible sound.