The Mother by Janet Gertrude (Nettie) Higgins Palmer

In the sorrow and the terror of the nations,
In a world shaken through by lamentations.
Shall I dare know happiness
That I stitch a baby’s dress?

So: for I shall be a mother with the mothers,
I shall know the mother’s anguish like the others,
Present joy must surely start
For the life beneath my heart.

Gods and men, ye know a woman’s glad unreason,
How she cannot bend and weep but in her season.
Let my hours with rapture glow
As the seams and stitches grow.

And I cannot hear the word of fire and slaughter;
Do men die? Then live my child, my son, my daughter!
Into realms of pain I bring
You for joy’s own offering.

From: Smith, Vivian (ed.), Nettie Palmer: Her Private Journal Fourteen Years, Poems, Reviews and Literary Essays, 1988, University of Queensland Press: St Lucia, pp. 267-268.

Date: 1915

By: Janet Gertrude (Nettie) Higgins Palmer (1885-1964)

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