Robert Kirkland Kernighan

(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)

Don'T Tell Mother - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan

I thing I'm dying, Tom, old boy; I'm all broke up

to-night ;

I feel so sick at heart I wish I 'd never see the light ;
For I 've done wrong, yes, very wrong ; I 've thrown

myself aw r ay
Oh ! if the old folks heard it, Tom, I wonder what

they 'd say !

For when I left for Winnipeg my dear old mother said,
' My boy, do always what is right and never be afraid ;
Don't drink, my boy, and keep away from those who

do what 's wrong ;
And every hour, I '11 pray to God to keep you brave

and strong.'

So if I die to-night, my boy, keep constant by my side,
And never, never, never, Tom, tell mother how I died.

Oh, Tom ; I so remember well the morn I came away ;
The air was full of singing birds and sweet with scented

hay;
And through the rustling apple trees the wind came

soft and slow,
And by my side stood mother, dear Oh ! Tom she

loved me so ;
Her poor old hands held mine, dear Tom, her eyes were

full of tears,
And in her dear old loving heart there bubbled mystic

fears ;

For, Tom, you must remember I was her only son
Oh ! God forgive me for the pain I 've caused that

suffering one !


Oh, give me water, quick ! dear Tom, and stay here by

my side,
And if I die to-night, do n't tell my mother how I died.

I kissed her lips and promised her I 'd try and do so

well
Oh ! curse the words that from my lips that summer

morning fell !
For in my heart the serpent lay, for, hear me, Tom,

just think

I swore upon my bended knees I 'd never, never drink,
And then I held her to my heart, and felt her blessing

fall,
And as I darted through the gate I heard my mother

call:
My boy ! my boy ! my only one ! my son, come back to

me!'
But I could never more come back ah ! that can never

be,

For when I said I 'd never drink the angel knew I lied ;
But if I die to-night, dear Tom, do n't tell her how I

died.

I came and did my best, old boy, but I was weak and

foiled,
And every day the serpent's folds were 'round my

reason coiled ;
I tried to break the hideous bonds and choose a better

fate;
But I was feverish, weak and faint, and now I sob,

'Too late!'
Too late! too late! Oh, God! too late! I heard my

mother moan,
And in my breast to-night, old boy, my heart lies like a

stone.


Come nearer, nearer, nearer, Tom, stay closer to my

side
And promise, Tom, you '11 never tell my mother how I

died.

Oh, keep your word, old boy, if you her poor old life

would save ;
The truth would bring her old gray hair in sorrow to

the grave ;

Oh, let her die and think that I was ever true and good,
And that I always did the best, the very best I could
I see her face, I feel her hand my burning brow upon ;
I hear her whisper in my ear, and now, O God ! she 's

gone !

I cannot see now, dear Tom, come nearer to my side,
And as the God above 's your judge, don't tell her how

I died.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, May 18, 2012



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