We take journeys without maps as we navigate family relationships, and there is none to which we bring greater expectation than that of child to mother. That said, poetry is where we forego maps, and so poets have long commemorated mothers. Today we are happy to present Lola Ridge’s recollection and 1920 tribute to her own mother as we send best wishes to all of our readers who are celebrating Mother’s Day.

 

Mother

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors . . .
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind
than a luster
I see you in gleams
pale as star-light on a gray wall . . .
evanescent as the reflection of a white swan
shimmering in broken water.

                                                      Reprinted from www.poets.org

 

11_shoulderBorn in Dublin on December 12, 1873, Lola Ridge grew up in mining towns in New Zealand and Australia. When she was thirty-four years old, she immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in New York City. Ridge first received critical attention in 1918 when her long poem “The Ghetto” was published in The New Republic. Later that year, Ridge published her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems. Ridge was employed as a factory worker and was politically active, often writing about race, class, and gender issues, especially in her early work. She was an advocate for women’s rights, gay rights, and the rights of immigrants. In 1927, she was arrested while protesting the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists and Italian immigrants who were convicted, through a controversial trial, of murdering two men during an armed robbery in Massachusetts. The critical success of her early work led to editorships at avant-garde journals, Other (where she worked alongside poets William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore), and Broom. Her awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935 and the Shelley Memorial Award in 1936. She died in New York at the age of sixty-seven on May 19, 1941.

Once again, we thank poets.org

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.