ONE BY ONE by John O'Brien

With trust in God and her good man
   She settled neath the spur;
The old slab dwelling, spick and span,
   Was world enough for her;
The lamp-light kissed her raven hair
   As, when her work was done,
She lined us up beside her chair
   And taught us one by one.

And weaving memories, haunting sweet, With threads of weal and woe, The years went by on velvet feet - We did not hear them go. The world was calling everywhere Beneath the golden sun; When silver streaked her raven hair, We left her one by one.
Then, turning back on cogs of pain, The spool that ran so fast Unwound before her eyes again The pictures of the past. The shadows played around her chair, Where fancy's web was spun; When time had bleached her raven hair, She called us one by one.
Oh, say not that we loved her less! But write them to our shame, The silence and the loneliness; And then the summons came - We found the dark clouds banking there To hide the setting sun. Ah, white threads in her children's hair! - We gathered one by one.
How quaintly sere, how small and strange The old home and the spur; But stranger this - the only change Was wrought in us and her. The lamp-right kissed her faded chair, Where, ere the sands had run, The sheen still on her raven hair, She'd nursed us one by one.
Oh, vain the word that each could tell With full heart brimming o'er. That we, who ever loved her well, Might still have loved her more! Then back into the world of care - To bless till life is done - A memory crowned with milk-white hair We carried one by one.

  Return to the John O'Brien page.
  Return to the Around the Boree Log and Other Verses page.