It must be a hard thing to let go of the title mother,
Even when your grandchildren have taken on the role,
To let loose the last note of Yeats’s Song of the Old Mother.
Old age must be a hard thing to accept.
A slowing mind and frail body
Have demanded that you look at your grandson,
A man you probably still see as the child he’d once been,
And admit you, like Lange’s Migrant Mother,
Have nothing left to offer, nothing left to give
For yourself, for your children, or for anyone else
Admission of weakness trips the tongue,
And this favor, you cannot seem to ask
If I could do this for you, I would
Instead, I must content myself with asking you a final favor
To ask your grandchild to help care for you
As you’d done for him, for us, for so long
And to wear the title of elder as proudly as you’d done for mother
To rest easy knowing the hard work is done.
Sorry for the late post, guys, but I was really struggling with this poem. This was an interesting assignment for my Poetry Writing course, where everyone in the class had to write down (anonymously) something that they were pretty concerned about. My professor shuffled up all the responses and handed them out randomly to the class. We had to compose a poem about that worry, which would’ve been really fun and interesting to do, if it wasn’t also part of the assignment to reference a famous poem and piece of art.
Yeat’s Song of the Old Mother can be read here.
And for those of you who aren’t familiar with Dorothea Lange’s famous image, Migrant Mother: