Mother! Darling mother, you are seeking me I know,
And I feel thy love will follow through the world where'er I go;
But I cannot come, dear mother; I am sadly altered now:
The once fair wreath of innocence that garlanded my brow
Has faded ne'er to bloom again; and from the things of yore-
The fair, the good, the beautiful - I'm severed ever-more.
My onward way must be a path of darkness and of pain,
But I must tread it all alone - I cannot come again.
Of all the changes that have come, I know that this will be,
Where all the changes have been sad, the saddest change to thee.
I know how much thou'lt weep, mother, for thy dear boy so lost,
And 'tis the sorrow thou must feel that makes me sorrow most.
I strove against this darker fate, I struggled, mother, long.
I starved and suffered months, mother, ere I was linked to wrong:
And even now good angels plead to win me - but in vain!
Once fallen is forever lost - I cannot come again.
I'm severed from thee by my sin, but cannot say 'forget,'
Thy love is such a hollowed thing, I ask it even yet;
But let it be a memory that images all fair
The child that with uplifted hands in faith knelt by thy chair.
Think of me, mother, as I was, when joy lit up my brow
And my young heart was innocent, but not as I am now.
Pray for me. This I know thou'lt do; but seek me not, 'tis vain!
I'd throw a shadow on thy home - I cannot come again.
They say that in desert drear some greenness may be found,
Some oasis in contrast strange to all the waste around,
And even thus, within my heart, guilt darkened though it be,
There is a love all-beautiful, that lives and clings to thee.
I'm weeping very bitterly, I cannot help these tears,
They are the tribute memory pays to joys of fleeted years,
Goodbye! God bless thee, mother dear! I sorrow for thy pain.
Oh! If I were but innocent, I'd gladly come again.