The Troubadour Podcast

Sunday Morning Poetry #3: THE MAD MOTHER by William Wordsworth

May 12, 2019
The Troubadour Podcast
Sunday Morning Poetry #3: THE MAD MOTHER by William Wordsworth
The Troubadour Podcast
Sunday Morning Poetry #3: THE MAD MOTHER by William Wordsworth
May 12, 2019
Kirk j Barbera
To understand motherhood, we must ask a madwoman.
Show Notes

A #Mothersday challenge! This poem by William Wordsworth, THE MAD MOTHER, is not your typical lovey-dovey mom poem. Rather, it focuses on a woman, whose husband abandoned her and her newborn, as she copes with this new reality and her own apparent insanity.

One way art causes serious contemplation in the mind of an active observer is by "the pleasure which the mind derives from the perception of similitude and dissimilitude." 

In other words, the mind find pleasure in seeing similarities among dissimilar things.

What can we learn about motherhood from an insane, abandoned, wild mother? 

Tune in for this week's Sunday Morning Poetry!


By WIlliam Wordsworth

Her eyes are wild, her head is bare,

  The sun has burnt her coal-black hair,

  Her eye-brows have a rusty stain,

  And she came far from over the main.

  She has a baby on her arm,

  Or else she were alone;

  And underneath the hay-stack warm,

  And on the green-wood stone,

  She talked and sung the woods among;

  And it was in the English tongue.

  "Sweet babe! they say that I am mad,

  But nay, my heart is far too glad;

  And I am happy when I sing

  Full many a sad and doleful thing:

  Then, lovely baby, do not fear!

  I pray thee have no fear of me,

  But, safe as in a cradle, here

  My lovely baby! thou shalt be,

  To thee I know too much I owe;

  I cannot work thee any woe."

  A fire was once within my brain;

  And in my head a dull, dull pain;

  And fiendish faces one, two, three,

  Hung at my breasts, and pulled at me.

  But then there came a sight of joy;

  It came at once to do me good;

  I waked, and saw my little boy,

  My little boy of flesh and blood;

  Oh joy for me that sight to see!

  For he was here, and only he.

  Suck, little babe, oh suck again!

  It cools my blood; it cools my brain;

  Thy lips I feel them, baby! they

  Draw from my heart the pain away.

  Oh! press me with thy little hand;

  It loosens something at my chest;

  About that tight and deadly band

  I feel thy little fingers press'd.

  The breeze I see is in the tree;

  It comes to cool my babe and me.

  Oh! love me, love me, little boy!

  Thou art thy mother's only joy;

  And do not dread the waves below,

  When o'er the sea-rock's edge we go;

  The high crag cannot work me harm,

  Nor leaping torrents when they howl;

  The babe I carry on my arm,

  He saves for me my precious soul;

  Then happy lie, for blest am I;

  Without me my sweet babe would die.

  Then do not fear, my boy! for thee

  Bold as a lion I will be;

  And I will always be thy guide,

  Through hollow snows and rivers wide.

  I'll build an Indian bower; I know

  The leaves that make the softest bed:

  And if from me thou wilt not go.

  But still be true 'till I am dead,

  My pretty thing! then thou shalt sing,



Listen to this podcast on