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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Psalms and Hymns for the Church (1883). V. “Mother mine, why hast thou borne me?”

William Josiah Irons (1812–1883)

[From the Greek,—A meditation of S. Gregory, Naz.]

MOTHER mine, why hast thou borne me,

Given me toilsome thorny life?

Was thine own lot clear from sorrow—

Didst thou succumb in the strife?

Was it love that brought me hither,

In men’s varying paths to roam,

Tilling fields, or crossing ocean,

Chasing, fighting for their home?

Would’st thou I had poet’s glory?

Wore the athlete’s laurel-crown?

Say’st thou, “God shall be thy portion,”

Though earth’s sorrows cast thee down?—

Yet disease and powerless effort

Force the agonising tear;

Joyful might I quit these sufferings,

Mother mine, why am I here!

Even when to God aspiring,

Words relieve not half my mind;

Sacred glimpses flash upon me,

God the Trinity I find;

Yet how quickly all escapes me,

Like the lightning from the sky,

Shining round us brightly, swiftly,

Vanished ere we fix our eye.

Could I hold Thee, Lord,—that vision,

TRINAL Good of heaven and earth!—

Then I might rejoice in being,

And no longer blame my birth:

Save, O save me, Word Eternal!

Raise me hence to life above:

There, pure minds shall circle round Thee,

Where no cloud shall hide Thy love.