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!