An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry/My Mother

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For works with similar titles, see My Mother.

Otakar Březina (b. 1868).



Thro' life my mother, as in sad atonement, paced,
Of fragrances, hues, blossoms, light, her day was bare;
Dry is the fruit of life, and hath an ashen taste,
That, unrefreshed, she from the tree of time did tear.

The biting dust of need her beauteous face assailed,
Into her eyes it gnawed and quenched in tears its heat;
In drifts like to the sand-storm on her path it trailed,
Arched for her faintness in its billows a retreat.

Beneath the load of gloomy years her back she bent,
The scorching heat of toil upon her freshness preyed.
On death she placed her kiss; by grievous anguish rent,
Smiling, with whispered words of thanks she answer made.

On marble dank of churches she knelt down adream,
Amid the grave-yard taper scent, before the shrine;
She poured a shower of fragrant comforts in a stream
Within the chalice of her soul, as dew-drops shine.

O mother mine, to-day in lustre all aflame,
Thou golden arrow, to the focus that did fly
Of secrets ne'er at rest! The cadence of thy name
Upon our waves ceased quailing, but I know thee nigh!

I am the blossom of thy blood, grown chill and dead,
That budded from the moisture of thine eyes, and grew,
Upon my lips thy life's sharp savour thou didst shed,
And from thy childhood sadness to my soul withdrew.

And when 'mid nightly calm, green midnight shimmers clear,
Thou risest from the grave, and with my couch art blent,
And in my breath, the rhythm of thy breath I hear,
And quickened by my voice's wave, thou dost lament.

Into my veins the warmth is from thy frame delivered,
The gloomy lustre of thine eyes in mine is poured;
The mystic heat of faith, 'neath which thy spirit quivered,
Into my soul in glowing, blood-red fire has soared.

And mine is now the gloomy path where once thou paced,
Of fragrances, hues, blossoms, light, my day is bare;

Dry is the fruit of life, and hath an ashen taste,
That 'mid thy shade's breath from the tree of Time I tear.


"The Mystic Distances" (1895).