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Empty Nest Poems

Table of Contents

  1. A Song of Twilight by Unknown
  2. No Baby in the House by Clara Dolliver
  3. "Are the Children at Home?" by Margaret Sangster
  4. Tired Mothers by May Riley Smith
  5. The Old Crib by Mary E. Tucker
  6. Nesting by Amos Russel Wells
  7. My Heart's Little Room by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  8. When the Young Are Grown by Edgar A. Guest
  9. To-Day by Ellen Fessenden Lincoln

  1. A Song of Twilight

    by Anonymous

    Oh, to come home once more, when the dusk is falling,
    To see the nursery lighted and the children's table spread;
    "Mother, mother, mother!" the eager voices calling,
    "The baby was so sleepy that he had to go to bed!"

    Oh, to come home once more, and see the smiling faces,
    Dark head, bright head, clustered at the pane;
    Much the years have taken, when the heart its path retraces,
    But until time is not for me, the image will remain.

    Men and women now they are, standing straight and steady,
    Grave heart, gay heart, fit for life's emprise;
    Shoulder set to shoulder, how should they be but ready!
    The future shines before them with the light of their own eyes.

    Still each answers to my call; no good has been denied me,
    My burdens have been fitted to the little strength that's mine,
    Beauty, pride and peace have walked by day beside me,
    The evening closes gently in, and how can I repine?

    But oh, to see once more, when the early dusk is falling,
    The nursery windows glowing and the children's table spread;
    "Mother, mother, mother!" the high child voices calling,
    "He couldn't stay awake for you, he had to go to bed!"

  2. No Baby in the House

    by Clara Dolliver

    No baby in the house, I know,
    'Tis far too nice and clean.
    No toys, by careless fingers strewn,
    Upon the floors are seen.
    No finger-marks are on the panes,
    No scratches on the chairs;
    No wooden men setup in rows,

    Or marshaled off in pairs;
    No little stockings to be darned,
    All ragged at the toes;
    No pile of mending to be done,
    Made up of baby-clothes;
    No little troubles to be soothed;
    No little hands to fold;
    No grimy fingers to be washed;
    No stories to be told;
    No tender kisses to be given;
    No nicknames, "Dove" and "Mouse";
    No merry frolics after tea,—
    No baby in the house!

  3. "Are the Children at Home?"

    by Margaret Sangster

    Each day, when the glow of sunset
    Fades in the western sky,
    And the wee ones, tired of playing,
    Go tripping lightly by,
    I steal away from my husband,
    Asleep in his easy-chair,
    And watch from the open doorway
    Their faces fresh and fair.

    Alone in the dear old homestead
    That once was full of life,
    Ringing with girlish laughter,
    Echoing boyish strife,
    We two are waiting together;
    And oft, as the shadows come,
    With tremulous voice he calls me,
    "It is night! are the children home?"

    "Yes, love!" I answer him gently,
    "They're all home long ago;"—
    And I sing, in my quivering treble,
    A song so soft and low,
    Till the old man drops to slumber,
    With his head upon his hand,
    And I tell to myself the number
    At home in the better land.

    At home, where never a sorrow
    Shall dim their eyes with tears!
    Where the smile of God is on them
    Through all the summer years!
    I know,—yet my arms are empty,
    That fondly folded seven,
    And the mother-heart within me
    Is almost starved for heaven.

    Sometimes, in the dusk of evening,
    I only shut my eyes,
    And the children are all about me,
    A vision from the skies:
    The babes whose dimpled fingers
    Lost the way to my breast,
    And the beautiful ones, the angels,
    Passed to the world of the blest.

    With never a cloud upon them,
    I see their radiant brows;
    My boys that I gave to freedom,—
    The red sword sealed their vows!
    In a tangled Southern forest,
    Twin brothers bold and brave,
    They fell; and the flag they died for,
    Thank God! floats over their grave.

    A breath, and the vision is lifted
    Away on wings of light,
    And again we two are together,
    All alone in the night.
    They tell me his mind is failing,
    But I smile at idle fears;
    He is only back with the children,
    In the dear and peaceful years.

    And still, as the summer sunset
    Fades away in the west,
    And the wee ones, tired of playing,
    Go trooping home to rest,
    My husband calls from his corner,
    "Say, love, have the children come?"
    And I answer, with eyes uplifted,
    "Yes, dear! they are all at home."

  4. Tired Mothers

    by May Riley Smith

    A little elbow leans upon your knee,
    Your tired knee that has so much to bear;
    A child's dear eyes are looking lovingly
    From underneath a thatch of tangled hair.
    Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch
    Of warm, moist fingers, folding yours so tight;
    You do not prize this blessing overmuch,—
    You almost are too tired to pray to-night.

    But it is blessedness! A year ago
    I did not see it as I do to-day,—
    We are so dull and thankless; and too slow
    To catch the sunshine till it slips away.
    And now it seems surpassing strange to me
    That, while I wore the badge of motherhood,
    I did not kiss more oft and tenderly
    The little child that brought me only good.

    And if some night when you sit down to rest,
    You miss this elbow from your tired knee,—
    This restless, curling head from off your breast—
    This lisping tongue that chatters constantly;
    If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
    And ne'er would nestle in your palm again;
    If the white feet into, their grave had tripped,
    I could not blame you for your heartache then!

    I wonder so that mothers ever fret
    At little children clinging to their gown;
    Or that the footprints, when the days are wet,
    Are ever black enough to make them frown.
    If I could find a little muddy boot,
    Or cap, or jacket, on my chamber-floor,—
    If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,
    And hear its patter in my house once more,—

    If I could mend a broken cart to-day,
    To-morrow make a kite to reach the sky,
    There is no woman in God's world could say
    She was more blissfully content than I.
    But ah! the dainty pillow next my own
    Is never rumpled by a shining head;
    My singing birdling from its nest has flown,
    The little boy I used to kiss is dead.

  5. The Old Crib

    by Mary E. Tucker

    "Sell that crib? Indeed! indeed I cannot, for I see in it the faces of my children. I will starve before I sell that crib."

    I know thou art a senseless thing,
    Still recollections round thee cling
    Of joys long past;
    And I would fain retain thee now,
    Yet want's stern hand and lowering brow
    Has o'er me cast
    His misery with weight untold,
    And, much prized crib, thou must be sold!

    Ah! well do I remember yet,
    Remember? can I well forget
    That happy day,
    When a swift tide my spirit moved,
    And with a mother's soul, I loved
    The child that lay
    Within thy lap — my precious boy!
    How throbbed my heart with untold joy.

    How swiftly, then, the years sweep on,
    With love, joy, wealth, they come, are gone,
    And very soon
    A little dark-eyed, bonny girl,
    Pressed on thy pillow many a curl.
    Most precious boon
    That ever was to mortal given —
    A cherub, from the gates of heaven.

    And yet again, some powerful spell,
    Called to this earth, sweet baby Bell,
    My sunbeam child,
    With hair of gold, and eyes of blue,
    And cheeks that vie the rosebud's hue —
    Pure, undefiled!
    About my heart she seems to twine,
    As round the oak, the clinging vine.

    Take back thy gold! It shall not go!
    'Twas mine in weal, and now in woe:
    It comforts me.
    It takes me back, in fitful gleams,
    To the sweet, fairy land of dreams,
    And then I see
    Those little heads, with glossy curls,
    My manly boy, my little girls!

  6. Nesting

    by Amos Russel Wells

    NEST-ing, nesting, you and I,
    EST-imating what to buy,
    ST-ealing now and then a kiss,
    T-ip and top of human bliss!
    N-ot a worry or a fear,
    NE-ar or far with you, my dear!
    NES-cience to heaven nigh;
    NEST-ing, nesting, you and I.

  7. My Heart's Little Room

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    There's a dear little chamber somewhere in my heart
    That opens to only you three;
    Though many have tried to unfasten the door,
    They picked at the lock till their fingers were sore,
    For to file it apart
    Vainly proved every art,
    And in vain have they sought for the key.

    Many times I go into this quaint little room,
    The pictures to change or adjust;
    I see your sweet faces grouped there with my own,
    And I wonder that I feel so strangely alone;
    But about through the room
    I move briskly the broom,
    And sweep from the corners the dust.

    The windows I throw open wide to the air
    To let in the breeze and the light;
    I watch the sunbeams in their mischievous way
    Creep into the curtains, like children at play,
    And while I am there
    I have no thought of care,
    For the room is so warm and so bright.

    And oft I look up from the balcony’s brink
    To a sky that shows many a hue;
    A vine clambers thickly the window above,
    Where my birds sing together their rhythm of love;
    My thoughts with them link
    For I sit here and think
    And all of my song is for you.

    Ah! some day I know you will come back to me
    To rest in this queer little room;
    And that’s why so tidy and clean it is kept,
    The air always fragrant, the floor always swept,
    For I long here to see
    My sweet roses three,
    As from buds into blossoms they bloom.

    Then come when you may, be the sky black or blue,
    The lock will unclasp as of yore;
    For (unless Death should come introspecting my heart,
    And break down its barriers and wrench them apart),
    A friend that is true
    Will be watching for you,
    Ever waiting to unbar the door.

  8. When the Young Are Grown

    by Edgar A. Guest

    Once the house was lovely, but it's lonely here to-day,
    For time has come an' stained its walls an' called the young away;
    An' all that's left for mother an' for me till life is through
    Is to sit an' tell each other what the children used to do.

    We couldn't keep 'em always an' we knew it from the start;
    We knew when they were babies that some day we'd have to part.
    But the years go by so swiftly, an' the littlest one has flown,
    An' there's only me an' mother now left here to live alone.

    Oh, there's just one consolation, as we're sittin' here at night,
    They've grown to men an' women, an' we brought 'em up all right;
    We've watched 'em as we've loved 'em an' they're splendid, every one,
    An' we feel the Lord won't blame us for the way our work was done.

    They're clean, an' kind an' honest, an' the world respects 'em, too;
    That's the dream of parents always, an' our dreams have all come true.
    So although the house is lonely an' sometimes our eyes grow wet,
    We are proud of them an' happy an' we've nothing to regret.

  9. To-Day

    by Ellen Fessenden Lincoln

    The sunshine lingers in the room,
    I see it through the window stream;
    Kissing the pillow where he lay
    His head in many a boyish dream.
    But O the change since yesterday,—
    The young, strong step that I so miss,
    The weary miles now stretching on
    Between us and my last fond kiss.

    And mine had been a different plan,—
    A dream of sheltered nooks and bowers,
    Of toil and pleasure hand in hand,
    Of home and friends and merry hours.
    But he had longed to try the world,
    Its hopes, its promises, its cares,
    To tempt Dame Fortune's fickle smile,
    And win her to him unawares.

    And so, with spirit bold and brave,
    He pressed my hand in mute "good-bye,"
    And turned aside, lest I should see
    The tears that glistened in his eye.
    And my poor heart was aching sore,
    He might have heard each throb of pain,
    My questioning heart, that yearned to know
    If I should meet my boy again.

    O life is hard! The common lot
    And parting wring the anguished heart.
    But O how differently we'd choose,
    Yet see our fondest hopes depart!
    We take the burden we would fain
    Lay down, and fold our weary hands,
    Praying our loss may be his gain,
    Trusting to Him who understands.

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