You who have stood at the bedposts.

We have a new baby in my parish, over whom we are rejoicing, though we haven’t met him yet; he has a few weeks to go before being brought to church on the traditional 40th day after birth. It’s a good time to post this poem that I only recently discovered. 

Every baby coming into the world is a unique event, and my own feelings about births I’ve been present for have also been various. The group of people who have been appointed, as it were, to participate, each in her own way, bring all their personalities and prayers, and God is always present. 

I’m sure that many of my readers also retain impressions and images from standing by the bedposts (or lying in the bed), during or just after childbirth. None of the photos I might put here (the one above is from the internet) are much good by comparison with the golden moments that remain our personal possessions, even if with time they lose their crispness in the mind.

“Nothing else was ever so important.”

BEING BORN IS IMPORTANT

Being born is important.
You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.

You who have seen the new wet child
dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready —

You who have seen this love’s payday
of wild toil and sweet agonizing —

You know being born is important.
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood —
It must be older than the moon, older than salt.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Here’s a little something about Carl Sandburg’s own children.

7 thoughts on “You who have stood at the bedposts.

  1. The closest thing I’ve come to childbirth is watching “Call the Midwife.” But when KevMo had their first, we got to hold him within a few hours of his birth. I’d never seen a human so small. We just had a new baby in our extended family, my cousin’s daughter’s first child. I’m copying this poem and sending it to Heather and her parents.

    Like

  2. This poem is lovely and one I’m holding on to to share with clients as I continue my doula work. Thank you for sharing it! I have been turning to your blogs more often recently for comfort, inspiration and to feel grounded in our beautiful faith in Christ.

    Oh, I used a recipe from your blog this week – the Indian Chickpea Spinach stew. I loved how fast and easy it was to put together. Yum

    Much love, Kendra

    Like

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