"The Slave Mother," by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
Heard you that shriek? It rose
So wildly on the air,
It seem'd as if a burden'd heart
Was breaking in despair.
Saw you those hands so sadly clasped --
The bowed and feeble head --
The shuddering of that fragile form --
That look of grief and dread?
Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
Its every glance was pain,
As if a storm of agony
Were sweeping through the brain.
She is a mother pale with fear,
Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kyrtle vainly tries
His trembling form to hide.
He is not hers, although she bore
For him a mother's pains;
He is not hers, although her blood
is coursing through his veins!
He is not hers, for cruel hands
May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
That binds her breaking heart.
His love has been a joyous light
That o'er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
Amid life's desert wild.
His lightest word has been a tone
Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one --
Oh, Father! must they part?
They tear him from her circling arms,
Her last and fond embrace: --
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
Gaze on his mournful face.
No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
Disturb the listening air;
She is a mother, and her heart
Is breaking in despair.
Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins. Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects. Boston: J.B. Yerrinton & Son, Printers: 1854. Available online at Library of Congress' American Memory website.
The first man to fly across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh was unprepared for the attention, particularly after his son was kidnapped.
A star in baseball's golden age, Joe DiMaggio's celebrity status and tumultuous marriage to Marilyn Monroe brought him pain.
During World War II, more than a thousand women signed up to fly with the U.S. military as WASPS.
Martha Ballard was a midwife and mother in Maine following the American Revolution.
As a nation mourned the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a manhunt closed in on the twenty-six-year-old actor, John Wilkes Booth.
The legendary tale of Emeline Gurney, who - as the story goes - sold an illegitimate child at the age of 14 only to marry him at a later age.
With data compiled from tens of thousands of sex questionnaires, Alfred Kinsey changed America's views about sex with the Kinsey Reports.
From letters of the second U.S. president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail, this film explores their tumultuous times.