A monologue from the play by Josephine Preston Peabody

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Piper: A Play in Four Acts. Josephine Preston Peabody. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909.
  • PIPER: Who was my mother, then?
    Nay, I do not know. For when I saw her,
    She was a thing so trodden, lost and sad,
    I cannot think that she was ever young,
    Save in the cherishing voice. -- She was a stroller.
    She was a stroller. -- And she starved and sang;
    And like the wind, she wandered, and was cold,
    Outside your lighted windows, and fled by,
    Storm-hunted, trying to outstrip the snow,
    South, south, and homeless as a broken bird,--
    Limping and hiding!--And she fled, and laughed,
    And kept me warm; and died! To you, a Nothing;
    Nothing, forever, oh, you well-housed mothers!
    As always, always for the lighted windows
    Of all the world, the Dark outside is nothing;
    And all that limps and hides there in the dark;
    Famishing,--broken,--lost! And I have sworn
    For her sake and for all, that I will have
    Some justice, all so late, for wretched men,
    Out of these same smug towns that drive us forth
    After the show!--Or scheme to cage us up
    Out of the sunlight; like a squirrel's heart
    Torn out and drying in the market-place.
    My mother! Do you know what mothers are?--
    Your children! Do you know them? Ah, not you!
    There's not one here but it would follow me,
    For all your bleating!