Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—      
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—      
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,—   
Take them, and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay,—   
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap;—   
Rock me to sleep, mother — rock me to sleep!

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep;—   
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep!

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures,—      
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;—      
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep!

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead tonight,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;—   
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep!

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;—      
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep! 

This poem is in the public domain.

The wind shrills forth 
From the white cold North 
Where the gates of the Storm-god are; 
And ragged clouds, 
Like mantling shrouds,
Engulf the last, dim star. 

Through naked trees, 
In low coulees, 
The night-voice moans and sighs; 
And sings of deep, 
Warm cradled sleep, 
With wind-crooned lullabies. 

He stands alone 
Where the storm’s weird tone
In mocking swells; 
And the snow-sharp breath 
Of cruel Death 
The tales of its coming tells. 

The frightened plaint
Of his sheep sound faint
Then the choking wall of white—
Then is heard no more, 
In the deep-toned roar, 
Of the blinding, pathless night. 

No light nor guide,
Save a mighty tide
Of mad fear drives him on;
‘Till his cold-numbed form 
Grows strangely warm;
And the strength of his limbs is gone. 

Through the storm and night
A strange, soft light 
O’er the sleeping shepherd gleams;
And he hears the word 
Of the Shepherd Lord 
Called out from the bourne of dreams. 

Come, leave the strife 
Of your weary life;
Come unto Me and rest 
From the night and cold, 
To the sheltered fold,
By the hand of love caressed. 

The storm shrieks on,
But its work is done—
A soul to its God has fled;
And the wild refrain 
Of the wind-swept plain, 
Sings requiem for the dead.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Softly blow lightly
O twilight breeze
Scarcely bend slightly
O silver trees:
Night glides slowly down hill . . down stream
Bringing a myriad star-twinkling dream. . . . .
Softly blow lightly
O twilight breeze
Scarcely bend slightly
O silver trees:
Night will spill sleep in your day weary eye
While a soft yellow moon steals down the sky. . . .
Softly blow
Scarcely bend
So . . . . !
Lullaby. . . . . . . .

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.

Night ’neath the northern skies, lone, black, and grim:
Naught but the starlight lies ’twixt heaven, and him.

Of man no need has he, of God, no prayer;
He and his Deity are brothers there. 

Above his bivouac the firs fling down 
Through branches gaunt and black, their needles brown. 
    
Afar some mountain streams, rockbound and fleet
Sing themselves through his dreams in cadence sweet,

The pine trees whispering, the heron’s cry,
The plover’s passing wing, his lullaby. 

And blinking overhead the white stars keep
Watch o’er his hemlock bed—his sinless sleep.

From Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (The Musson Book Co., Limited, 1917) by Emily Pauline Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.

Rock me to sleep, ye waves, and drift my boat, 
With undulations soft, far out to sea; 
Perchance, where sky and wave wear one blue coat, 
My heart shall find some hidden rest remote. 
My spirit swoons, and all my senses cry
For ocean's breast and covering of the sky.
Rock me to sleep, ye waves, and, outward bound,
Just let me drift far out toil and care,
Where lapping of the waves shall be the sound
Which, mingled with the winds that gently bear
Me on between a peaceful sea and sky,
To make my soothing, slumberous lullaby.
Thus drifting on and on upon thy breast,
My heart shall go to sleep and rest, and rest. 

This poem is in the public domain.