I saw this poem awhile back on Tara’s blog at The Fiction Folio and it was so great, I knew I had to put it up on here. As we celebrate our own mothers and grandmothers and all the mothers in our lives (even ourselves!), let’s not forget to thank the mothers who taught us to love books and language. Among the many tasks mothers perform, sometimes they shape their child’s life without realizing it.
My mother told me she used to tape herself reading books so that she could play them for me at bedtime or naptime when she was too tired to read to me until I fell asleep. She continued to read to me before I went to sleep until I was maybe 8 or 9 and already quite capable of reading on my own. I don’t think she quite realized she was shaping a reader and writer when she played those tapes for me, but I’m so grateful she did. I can’t imagine my life without books or writing or language. It is an essential part of myself. So today I say thank you, Mom. I love you. This poem is for you.
The Reading Mother by Strickland Gillian
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.