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

November 2, 2013 · 12:44 PM
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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.

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