Mother's Day Poetry Quiz

20 extracts from poems on the theme of 'mothers' - name the poets... (answers here)

1. And I saw in the turning so clear a child’s / Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother / Through the parables / Of sun light / And the legends of the green chapels.

2. I have to write this now, while you’re still here: / I want my mother, not her chiffonier.

3. Or, after dark, will dubious women come / To make their children touch a particular stone; / Pick simples for a cancer; or on some / Advised night see walking a dead one?

4. I / see my mother with a few light books at her hip / standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks, / the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its / sword-tips aglow in the May air.

5. At noon I would go upstairs / to wash and change / – Sunday best, a clean white shirt and tie – / while mother made her face / and fixed her hair. / It was something we did, every year, / in that backwater town, / abandoning our lawns and flower beds, / to meet the patients, out at Summerswood.

6. This was Serenade, who would later throw my mother / as they jumped out of a wood into sunlight, and who, / taking all possible pains not to trample her down, or even / touch her, was nevertheless the means to an end, which // was death. 

7. So slow as torture he discloses bit by bit / my mother’s name, my original name / the hospital I was born in / the time I came // Outside Edinburgh is soaked in sunshine / I talk to myself walking past the castle. / So, so, so, I was a midnight baby after all.

8. Gold from the stone / Oil from the earth / I yearned for my home / From the time of my birth // Strength of a mother’s whisper / Shall carry me until / The hand of my lost sister / Joins unto my will

9. She’d had four sons, I know that well enough, / and each one wrong. All born blind, they say, / slack-jawed and simple, web-footed, / rickety as sticks…

10. Look at how / I wear my mother’s body / like a regional dress – // its collar gripping my neck. / For now, her legs are my arms, / her sex is my necklace.

11. Now the thread / is holding all of us: look at our tiny house, / son, the white dot of your mother’s waving.

12. You sit with your address book / open on your knee, / gently but firmly / crossing out the names / of old friends who have died

13. Mother, any distance greater than a single span / requires a second pair of hands.

14. Remember how we picked the daffodils? / Nobody else remembers, but I remember. / Your daughter came with her armfuls, eager and happy, / Helping the harvest. She has forgotten. / She cannot even remember you.

15. …this was you at seventeen, holding a horse / and smiling, not yet my mother, / although I was clearly already your child.

16. When I embarked from Italy with my Mother’s body, the whole shoreline of the Golfo di Genova / was breaking into fiery flower

17. Mother May I / leave these lasses’ games / and play at Man-hunt, just / in the scheme Mother / may I / tell small lies

18. Later she was Miss Steward in the baker’s shop / And then ‘my love’, ‘my darling’, mother.

19. Of course I love them, they are my children. / That is my daughter and this my son. / And this is my life I give them to please them. / It has never been used. Keep it safe, pass it on.

20. But nothing so cold as the February night I opened the door / in the Chapel of Rest where my mother lay, neither young, nor old, / where my lips, returning her kiss to her brow, knew the meaning of cold.