The Gipsy Mother



"From the worst turmoil
Sweet feelings will spring up like flowers
Born on a rugged soil."

The mother watched her child - her rosy child -
He slept in peace; her cloak was o'er him laid,
And her black tresses, from their knot unbound,
Fell o'er her neck, a wild and scanty veil.
It was a noon in spring - the trees were yet
Scarce covered with young leaves - and the sunbeams
Came thro' the smooth, straight stems; the mountain ash
Had not lost all its berries, and the pine
Wore yet its dark green robe. The mother sat
And watched her child: she was of that strange tribe -
The Egyptian wanderers; her dark eye was full
Of softened light - her features were not fair,
But now they had the grace of tenderness.
The hand that idly lay upon her knee,
Tho' dark, was delicate and small, and smooth;
No cheerful household toil had hallowed it
With sign of usefulness. A mat lay near
Of twisted straw, entwined with ivy - there,
Perhaps, wound by the fingers of the boy
Who slept before her. I stood still and gazed,
And saw this was the noontide of her heart -
Its hour of happiness. Her passions fierce,
Perhaps, at times, were sleeping like the winds
Cradled in the soft grass. Her soul had lost
Its guile and worldliness, and she was but
A woman and a mother, and nought else,
In that calm hour. She looked upon the boy
With earnest gaze - upon that babe her wild
And wandering thoughts were resting, like a bird
In some fair tree, whose leaves shut out the view
Of all the outer world. At length she stretched
Her hand unto a little knot of flowers,
(The wild-wood violet,) and she gathered one,
And, stooping, held it o'er the boy's fair face,
Resting it, for an instant, o'er his lips,
As if with natural instinct of the rich
Contrast its color made, with the deep rose
That blossomed there; then with a quiet smile
Of playfulness, (such as will sometimes come
From every mother's heart in its delight,)
She passed it lightly o'er his eyelids, till
The boy awakened, and stretched out his arms
With a bright smile. She lifted him, and turned,
And saw me standing near, and tenderness
And sunny smile, and love's pure gracefulness
Were gone. Her brow was dark and full of woe,
Her footsteps tottering with well-feigned disease.
She stood a houseless, worthless vagrant there,
With outstretched hand, and whine, and studied tale
Upon her lips. I turned away from her,
And yet returned and gave her a small boon
Even for the touch of womanhood that still
Could live unscathed 'midst such a wilderness
Of sin and sorrow as the gipsy's lot.
Liverpool, England.

The Ladies' Companion November 1839.