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The Reading Mother
Strickland Gillilan


I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.


This poem is in the public domain.



Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954) was an American humorist, lecturer, and poet. Born in Ohio, Strickland started out as a journalist and worked for several different newspapers, including the Washington Post. While on staff at the Richmond Daily Palladium, he wrote a humorous poem about an Irish railroader that ended up in Life Magazine and led to swift national acclaim. Credited with writing the world's shortest poem--"Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes"(subtitled "Fleas"): "Adam/Had 'em."--as well as one of the world?s most anthologized poems (this one), Strickland produced a huge body of work during his lifetime. He traveled the country for years, entertaining enthralled audiences with his witty novels, satirical essays, rollicking songs, and heartwarming poetry.


Post New Comment:
Thank you, Ginger, for being that mother that read to me, and by extension laid the whole world at my feet. My Ph.D. would never be, had I not had a mother who read to me.
Posted 09/01/2021 04:38 AM
Joe Sottile:
I liked "The Reading Mother." I sort of wish she was my mother. The collection of "Bonus" was interesting, and of high quality. Thank you.
Posted 04/30/2015 10:18 PM
I don't think I've ever read a poem I like so much!
Posted 04/30/2015 07:39 PM
He was very lucky...lovely poem.
Posted 04/30/2015 12:11 PM
Beautiful! I had such a mother as well!
Posted 04/30/2015 10:14 AM
Lovely poem. Wonderful fleas!
Posted 04/30/2015 01:29 AM

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