Manvotional: Somebody’s Mother

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 12, 2012 · 59 comments

in Manvotionals

An old sentimental poem in honor of Mother’s Day.

Somebody’s Mother
By Mary D. Brine

The woman was old and ragged and gray,
And bent with the chill of a winter’s day;
The streets were white with a recent snow,
And the woman’s feet with age were slow.

At the crowded crossing she waited long,
Jostled aside by the careless throng
Of human beings who passed her by.
Unheeding the glance of her anxious eye.

Down the street with laughter and shout.
Glad in the freedom of  “school let out,”
Come happy boys, like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep;
Past the woman, so old and gray.
Hastened the children on their way.

None offered a helping hand to her,
So weak and timid, afraid to stir,
Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet
Should trample her down in the slippery street.

At last came out of the merry troop
The gayest boy of all the group;
He paused beside her and whispered low,
“I’ll help you across, if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so without hurt or harm
He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were young and strong;
Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,
For all she’s aged, and poor and slow;
And some one, some time, may lend a hand
To help my mother—you understand?—
If ever she’s old and poor and gray,
And her own dear boy so far away.”

“Somebody’s mother” bowed low her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said
Was: “God be kind to that noble boy,
Who is somebody’s son and pride and joy.”

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ZZ May 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

So she’s only worthy of assistance if she’s given birth? If she’s childless, she should just step out into the street and get creamed by a truck, is that it?

2 ED May 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

In reference to ZZ’s comment

“So she’s only worthy of assistance if she’s given birth? If she’s childless, she should just step out into the street and get creamed by a truck, is that it?”

That is neither here nor there, the idea here is that everybody is worthwhile to someone out there and thus we should treat others with respect and kindness, as we would like for our loved ones to be treated in our absence. The idea of the old lady being “Somebody’s Mother” just goes along with the theme of Mother’s Day, you may substitute it for anything else you wish or find suitable.

3 EddieJ May 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Poor ZZ!! You really were “zz”!!

4 Morgan Devere May 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Thank you, ED, for your very civil response.

5 LG May 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm

ED, you put it much more nicely than I would have!

6 andres May 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm


7 Muz May 13, 2012 at 1:59 am

Just cried

8 Ben May 13, 2012 at 2:15 am

Well said ED.

Excellent piece of poetry.

9 Sharon Orlando-Evans May 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

I too pray that people are kind to my son, he is a nurse. The poem is beautiful.

10 Rich May 13, 2012 at 7:58 am

ZZ yes exactly..

11 Juzer Ali May 13, 2012 at 8:14 am


12 Aunt Linda May 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

I just read a quote from Sheri Dew.
:Motherhood is not just the act of giving birth; it is the essence of who we are.”

13 China May 13, 2012 at 8:16 am



14 Rich May 13, 2012 at 8:16 am

That was a wonderful poem.

15 E.Z. May 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

Don’t feed the Trolls people. It only encourages them.

16 Mike May 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

I agree with ZZ.

It’s like when a girl is killed and it makes the news – so often you hear “she was so pretty.” That is often the only reason it made the news – if the person were ugly, it wouldn’t have mattered as much.

Same with this poem.

17 Celeste May 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

You don’t have to “give birth” to be a “mother”, so you are missing the point ZZ… I have had many “mothers” in my life – loving, kind, guiding persons that have transformed who I am.

18 EZ PZ May 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

Mike and ZZ,
You wouldn’t be able to comment here if you weren’t given birth to by your mother.
Say thanks for just one day, it makes a lot of difference when you’re head is stuck so deep in where the sun don’t shine.

19 Leigh Ratcliffe May 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

” Don’t feed the Trolls people. It only encourages them.”

Oh, but you should feed them.

With the business end of a lightsaber.

20 Will May 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Saying “Mothers are valuable people” isn’t the same as saying “If a woman isn’t a mother, she should be hit like a truck.”

Just because something isn’t white, doesn’t make it black…or obviously, blatantly stupid.

21 Mark May 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

In certain asian cultures, older women are always addressed as Aunty. So whether the woman is a mother or not is really neither here nor there, I have always been taught to respect my elders, because they have paved the road so I my walk with ease. They may be the wife of the baker,cobbler etc and while they may not have personally raised you they have in some way provided for you and yours. Really nice poem

22 Steven May 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Wonderful poem. I can’t say I’ve ever helped an old woman across the street, though I have in fact helped several old men cross (just my opportunities I guess). This is how I like to live my life, I think “What if that were my mother/my father/me?” Happy mothers’ day y’all!

23 Pedro May 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

It’s not that she’s only of value for being someone’s mother. The penultimate paragraph explains that at least part of the motivation is the boy thinking of his own mother and, knowing that he may not always be available to, and capable of, helping her, desires to be the kind of boy who would help an old woman, much like he hopes there will be when his own mother is the one in need.

24 ZZ May 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Guys, there is absolutely nothing universal about this, and just asserting that doesn’t make it true. He SPECIFICALLY helped her because he assumed she was a mother. He SPECIFICALLY hoped someone else would help HIS mother.

Like Mike said, it’s just a matter of frivolous sentimentality. Rewarding someone for being pretty or fertile, even though those things are granted through no specific merit. It’s like giving a kid a prize for “participation”. Something nobody on AoM agrees with.

If she’s old and frail, help her out of altruism or humanity. Not as a way of rewarding her for having sex.

25 Chris May 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm

It is amazing that there are really people in the world as obtuse as ZZ. Disheartening really.

The boy has an epiphany that helps him see the woman as more than a stranger, that there is someone who cares about her, and we should do onto ourselves as we hope others will do onto us. The boy’s epiphany happened to come in the form of thinking of the woman as a mother. He’s a boy without much experience and recognizing people as fully human comes in steps like that. It’s the same as people who say they wouldn’t go into a strip club because the women there are someone’s sister, and you wouldn’t want people looking at your sister like that. Does it matter if she really is someone’s sister or if she was an only child? Of course not. They use that way to think about it to see their humanity, to put it in terms that motivates them to act and elicits their empathy.

26 Bozz May 14, 2012 at 2:36 am

Great Poem and Chris’s comment is spot on

ZZ The author hopes that people have the idea to help the elderly because he would hope someone would help his mother when hes not around too. Which is a message that even you can agree with cause im sure you’d want people to help your mother just the same. She also prays at the end. Should atheist pipe up on that too? no because poetry is a personal thing and unless the author says something blatantly obtuse, racist, or ignorant then you shouldnt completely denounce it at pain of being ignorant yourself which is what youre looking like

27 Odax May 14, 2012 at 2:42 am


28 JF May 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Being a gentleman always has a place; regardless of whom it is serving.

Kindness, humility, and respect never go out of style. Why question kindness when you receive it? Just be grateful you were shown it when the person could just have easily not.

29 ZZ May 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Why question it? Well, for one thing, it never actually happend. It’s a fictional piece of fluff generated to celebrate a holiday manufactured by the gift industry. This is a marketing tool, no more, no less. Attaching layers of deeper meaning that aren’t there is the sign of true obtuseness.

30 ZenBowman May 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Haters gonna hate.

And yes, I do value a woman more if she is a mother – that is a special role, and to deny that is delusional.

Does it mean women who aren’t mothers are worthless? Not at all.

But motherhood is sacred, and represents the ultimate expression of femininity. I don’t really care what a politically correct feminist (read:hater of all things feminine) has to say about that.

31 Omar May 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

ZZ has a point, but the point actually should be that there’s an assumption that they had a son or daughter. Because the assumption is reflected in the poem, it suggests that a woman’s existence is validated by her child bearing rather than by other means.

Yeah there’s huge gender issues here, and race issues (look at the lists of movies/books etc..), but the website is called artofmanliness.

An article on “How to be a gentlemen in a queer society” would be pretty cool. Take some of the good from back then, and use it now. (i.e. old men need help crossing too!)

32 SS May 15, 2012 at 2:45 am

Come on, ZZ. Are you truly not able to appreciate this poem for what it is and the several different ideas it represents? I am a 22 year old woman with no children. If I were clearly struggling to cross the street for any reason I would hope that someone would help me. If I saw a person, man or woman, struggling to cross the street I hope that I would be selfless and meet that person’s need.

If nothing else, you must be forgetting what day this post is in honor of. Or what website you’re on. As JF reminded us “Being a gentleman always has a place; regardless of whom it is serving.” Or both.

Go tell your mother or anyone who has nurtured you at any point in your life that you love them.

33 Cliff May 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

@ ZZ


34 markb May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

zz, does the reason the holiday, in this case Mother’s Day, was created or who created it (in your opinion, the gift industry) change the way you celebrate it? does the commercialization of Christmas change the way that you recognize Christ’s birth in your own heart? isn’t that superficial in the extreme?
is it mature to throw stones, especially such vicious ones, at an artistic expression such as this poem?

35 Therese Z May 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

ZZ has nothing to do.

The point that jumps out of that poem at me is that the popular boy, the “gayest one” in the dated parlance of the day, helps her and whispers his offer to her, to do his good deeds in secret.

There was a time when all our public verses and music and art were bathed in the Judeo-Christian ethic.

36 John May 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm


Mother’s Day wasn’t generated by an industry. It was made by a West Virginian woman after struggling to memorialize her own mother. She made it very clear, and so did Woodrow Wilson who signed it into official existence as a national holiday, that it is Mother’s Day rather than Mothers’ Day. It’s a day to celebrate YOUR mother, not all mothers. It was quickly commercialized and the founder (I think her name was Anna Jarvis? Something like that) was outspoken about how she didn’t approve of that. But it wasn’t founded for commercial reasons at all; it was founded out of love by a daughter for her mother.

If you argue that the problem with the poem is that it’s fictional and then talk about how it generalizes women into being mothers or useless, then you’ve painted yourself into a corner. Besides, while you can certainly make the argument that the poem is implicating that women who are not mothers are not to be celebrated, there is nothing in the text to support you. While “mother” is specifically said, the overall theme is “She is worthwhile to someone. She is a human being who has been loved. In the absence of her loved ones, it is my duty to treat her like I would like my loved ones to be treated.” If you would like to get into depth about this, I provide my email here and would be more than happy to have an intelligent and polite conversation about it.


37 max May 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm

ZZ is a douche. According to him if you don’t think the same way as him you are deluded or a shilling. Or and I think this may be the case he is one of those people who love to tear things down because he is incapable of creating. Not sure, really. Just a guess.

38 Aaron May 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I believe ZZ realized early on the idiocy of his comment. The original comment is excusable and even redeemable. But his insistence on defending his statement by launching an attack on the ligitamacy of Mothers Day is just plain goofy. It displays his own immaturity and failure to fully develop his mind and emotion.

39 Brandon May 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Yeah, zz, motherhood isn’t defined by being fertile and giving birth. Proof: plenty of women get pregnant, give birth, then give the baby away to someone else who becomes the mother. My wife is a mother twice without every having sex. So what, Hallmark holidays are lame, but women like parties to recognize their value. Mothers day gives that to them.

40 Brandon May 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Don’t know why I fed the troll.

41 G.D. May 17, 2012 at 12:42 am

Sometimes when people are sad or hurt or angry, they become convinced that everyone, and everything around them is bad or evil or against them. No, this is not a rational response, but, it happens anyway. I know this for a fact because I sometimes feel this way. Your instinctive and – also irrational reaction – is to lash out. I suspect that this was ZZ’s state of mind when he wrote his original comment. The problem is that when you are always angry and hurt, you’re not capable of seeing good things in the world or reaching out to people in a way that would actually help you feel better. Like helping out an old lady, who may or may not be someone’s mother.

42 Jeremiah May 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Great poem Brett and Kate, thanks for posting. Reminds me to be kind, and there can never be enough reminders of that!

43 wolf May 22, 2012 at 10:13 am

zz, you’re a douchebag. the mother part is just an example. the lady could have been someone’s daughter or wife or sister. the poem would have been just as relevant.

44 Maust52 May 24, 2012 at 5:49 am

ZZ and Mike you are dumb. Just because we praise one group doesn’t mean another is unworthy of praise. I do agree with you though that many times we overlook the non mothers and none “prettys”.

45 CD May 24, 2012 at 8:38 am

The responses by ZZ and some of the others shows just how political correctness has eroded our values. Now we can’t even enjoy a simple and straightforward poem without reading into it some sinister plot to subjugate women. No wonder do many men struggle to recover or maintain their manliness.

46 CD May 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

The responses by ZZ and some of the others shows just how political correctness has eroded our values. Now we can’t even enjoy a simple and straightforward poem without reading into it some sinister plot of subjugation.

47 Colin May 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

As a long-time reader of AoM, I am continually surprised at reader comments that use “name-calling” as an attempt to further their cause.

There are better ways to explain your opinions than calling someone a douche. It reflects poorly on all of us. Looks like we all need a refresher on what this site is about.

48 Aka May 29, 2012 at 3:37 am

My mother died when I was 22, and I have to say that this poem really touched me. Thank you for posting it.

49 ZZisAtool May 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

See name.

50 Vern May 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I have to agree with Colin-can we please stop the name calling-especially on this website, Gentlemen?

51 Arty May 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Gentlemen, gentlemen. It’s a MOTHER”S DAY poem for goodness sake…zz is just looking for something controversial to say, and doesn’t really give a beep about what we really think. Not really worth getting all riled up over…

great poem btw

52 Kurt Stokes June 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

What a fantastic poem. I will be giving this to my mother to read. Absolutely beatiful.

53 Wanna September 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I first heard this poem more than thirty years ago, recited to me by my dad and it had nothing to do with Mother’s Day.

54 ashok April 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

We r lucky to have this poem as our 7th standard syllabus in school days. Am very much inspired n implementing in my daily life.

55 Bob May 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Regardless if ZZ makes a point or not, one must either chose to live life as if the glass is half full or half empty. And there are people out there (ZZ) that chose the latter. If someone choses to over-analyze poetry, drawn pessimistic conclusions, and derive obscure meaning from a simple child’s poem…let them; it is their right. Let’s live like the glass is half full, because the other option doesn’t benefit anyone. It only serves to incite pointless arguments, which just adds fuel to the fire of pessimism.

56 Rui May 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I weeped manly tears
made me think of my own mother

57 Mario May 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Dear ZZ and friends,

I was once told by a old wise man that every woman is a mother to somebody or something at some point of her life. And that’s absolutely true.

Beautiful poem.

58 Don Bugg June 5, 2013 at 11:08 am

I wept. Thank you.

59 Stella September 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

The end of the poem does not end here.
It is…
Somebody’s mother bowed her head, In her home that night, she said. God be kind to that noble boy, who’s somebody’s son with pride and joy.
The angels caught the faltering word and somebody’s mothers prayer was heard.
I cant remember exactly but close. My mother won a poetry contest with this poem in the state of Texas in mid 1930′s. (Kathryn Fox from Ranger Texas0

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