Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

An Empty Crib


Beside a crib that holds a baby’s stocking,
A tattered picture book, a broken toy,
A sleeping mother dreams that she is rocking
Her fair-haired cherub boy.

Upon the cradle’s side her light touch keeping,
She gently rocks it, crooning low a song;
And smiles to think her little one is sleeping,
So peacefully and long.

Step light, breathe low, break not her rapturous dreaming,
Wake not the sleeper from her trance of joy,
For never more save in sweet slumber-seeming
Will she watch o’er her little boy.

God pity her when from her dream Elysian
She wakes to see the empty crib, and weep;
Knowing her joy was but a sleeper’s vision,
Tread lightly – let her sleep.

Submitted: Saturday, May 31, 2003

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