Henry Clay Work

(1 October 1832 – 8 June 1884 / Middletown, Connecticut)

Phantom Footsteps - Poem by Henry Clay Work

Childish foosteps, just behind her,
Softly patter on the green.
Back she glances; tears may blind her,
But no little one is seen.
Blanched, as by an ill appalling,
Home in terror hastens she,
While a baby voice is calling,
"Mother! mother! wait for me."

Phantom footsteps! hear them
falling (falling, falling),
falling (falling, falling)
Now, wherever she may be!
(hear footsteps falling!)
While a baby voice is
call- (calling, calling,)
-ing, (calling, calling,)
"Mother! mother! wait for me."

Sobbing still, but never lagging,
Soon she enters the gate,
And before her, on the flagging,
Sees the symbols of her fate:
Tiny shoeprints, plainly speaking
Of the salt and foamy sea.
Hark! was that the doorhinge creaking?
"Mother! mother! wait for me."

Half her night is spent in weeping,
Ere she can forget her cares:
Is there not an infant creeping--
Creeping slowly up the stairs?
Venturing thither in her yearning,
Only shadows can she see;
But she hears the cry while turning,
"Mother! mother! wait for me."

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Read poems about / on: mother, baby, fate, green, home, sea, night

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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