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

  • Sat Nov 2nd, 2013 7:44pm
  • Life

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.