All mariners, presumably, love their mothers. What kind of man does not? Even when one gets older, marries and has his own family, the emotional bond remains. Fond memories linger even after one’s mother has passed away. In a sense, the umbilical cord is never really cut. The following quotes are some of the most powerful on the subject of mothers and their capacity for making sacrifices and for loving selflessly and unconditionally.

Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.

— James Joyce, from ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ (1916)

Bliss leapt in his mother’s breast when she saw him, when she saw him walking, when she saw him sit down and get up, Siddhartha, strong, handsome, he who was walking on slender legs, greeting her with perfect respect.

— Hermann Hesse, from ‘Siddharta’ (1922)

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.

— William Makepeace Thackeray, from ‘Vanity Fair’ (1847-1848)

The bearing and the training of a child
Is woman’s wisdom.

— Alfred Tennyson, from ‘The Princess’ (1847)

—There is none,
In all this cold and hollow world, no fount
Of deep, strong, deathless love, save that within
A mother’s heart.

— Felicia Hemans, from ‘The Siege of Valencia: A Dramatic Poem’ (1823)

A woman’s love
Is mighty, but a mother’s heart is weak,
And by its weakness overcomes.

— James Russell Lowell, from ‘Legend of Brittany’ (1893)

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

— Rudyard Kipling, from ‘Mother o’ Mine’ (1892


The Happy Mother, 1913
Max Bohm (American,1868 – 1923)
Photo credit: The Smithsonian American Art Museum

She was human, sensible, shrewd. She was above all, and in every detail, practical. But more than that: she was one of that part of humankind which understands how things work; and works with them. A grim enough role.

— Doris Lessing, from ‘On Cats’ (2002)

They say that man is mighty,
He governs land and sea,
He wields a mighty scepter
O’er lesser powers than he;
But mightier power and stronger
Man from his throne has hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

— William Ross Wallace, ‘What Rules the World’ (1865)

Frederikke Tuxen and Birthe Ursula on the beach in Skagen, 1907
Laurits Tuxen (Danish, 1853 –1927)

Todas las cosas bellas
comenzaron cantando,
no olvides que tu madre
cantando te acunó.

(All beautiful things
began by singing,
don’t forget that your mother
singing cradled you.)

— Facundo Cabral (1937 – 2011), from the song ‘Está la puerta abierta’ (The door is open)

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