Arts and Entertainment

Rock Me to Sleep by Elizabeth Akers Allen | Poets.org

Rock Me to Sleep

by 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!

About This Poem

While traveling in Rome, Elizabeth Akers Allen sent "Rock Me to Sleep" to the Saturday Evening Post of Philadelphia. In 1866, she published a volume of poetry which included "Rock Me to Sleep," thus sparking a controversy with Alexander M.W. Ball of New Jersey, who claimed authorship. Regardless, Elizabeth Akers Allen is remembered chiefly for this sentimental poem, especially popular during the Civil War.

Our Mobile Apps

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 16 edition online now. Browse the archives.