A charming sonnet by Poe about mothers
Edgar Allan Poe’s mother died in 1811, when Poe was only two years old. His father had walked out the year before, so Poe became an orphan with his mother’s death. He was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, and would live with them until he had reached adulthood, although the Allans never formally adopted him. His middle name (really a second surname) was derived from his ‘adopted’ parents. He was probably named Edgar, by the way, after Edgar in King Lear: his (biological) parents were both actors, who were starring in a production of Shakespeare’s play when their son was born. Poe wrote ‘To My Mother’ in 18
To My Mother
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of ‘Mother,’
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you –
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free. Read the rest of this entry
The finest poems about grief
Grief is a part of life, and we will all know what it is to mourn at some point in our lives. Here are ten of the finest poems about the experience of grieving and mourning, taken from over 600 years of poetry…
Anonymous, ‘Why have ye no routhe on my child?’ This poem is a lament for a lost child: ‘rode’ is the ‘rood’ or Cross, and ‘routhe’ is ‘ruth’ or compassion – which is why someone who lacks compassion is described as ‘ruthless’. Click on the link above to read the poem, which is the sixth on our list of the best medieval poems. It’s the oldest poem on this list, dating back at least six centuries to the late fourteenth century, though it may be even older.
John Donne, ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’. As this poem’s title suggests, it’s a poem of farewell, written by Donne for his wife Anne in 1611-12 before he left England to go on a mission to Europe. Utilising metaphors of compass points and alchemical processes to describe the relationship between the husband and wife, ‘A Valediction’ is one of the finest examples of Metaphysical poetry. Read the rest of this entry
A delightful little paean to the poet’s mother
‘Tribute to Mother’ is a short poem in which the American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) recalls the time when he was a small child and sat beside his mother’s knee. The poet’s mother restrained his ‘selfish moods’ and taught him a ‘chastening love’:
Tribute to Mother
A picture memory brings to me;
I look across the years and see
Myself beside my mother’s knee.
I feel her gentle hand restrain
My selfish moods, and know again
A child’s blind sense of wrong and pain.
But wiser now, a man gray grown,
My childhood’s needs are better known.
My mother’s chastening love I own. Read the rest of this entry