BACKWARD, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for to-night! 
Mother, come back from the echoless shore, 
Take me again to your heart as of yore; 
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,         
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair; 
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

  

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years! 
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—  
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,— 
Take them, and give me my childhood again! 

I have grown weary of dust and decay,— 
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away; 
Weary of sowing for others to reap;—  

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep! 

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue, 
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you! 
Many a summer the grass has grown green, 
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:  
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain, 
Long I tonight for your presence again. 
Come from the silence so long and so deep;— 

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep! 

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone; 
No other worship abides and endures,— 
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours: 
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.  
Slumber's soft calms o'er my heavy lids creep;— 

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep! 

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold, 
Fall on your shoulders again as of old; 
Let it drop over my forehead to-night,  
Shading my faint eyes away from the light; 
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more 
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore; 
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;— 

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!  

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long 
Since I last listened your lullaby song: 
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem 
Womanhood's years have been only a dream. 
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,  
With your light lashes just sweeping my face, 
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;— 

Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

Cathie Ryan has put this poem to music.