Beautiful Hands

by ELLEN M.H. GATES (1835-1920)

SUCH beautiful, beautiful hands,
They’re neither white nor small;
And you, I know, would scarcely think
That they were fair at all.
I’ve looked on hands whose form and hue
A sculptor’s dream might be,
Yet are these agéd wrinkled hands
Most beautiful to me.

Such beautiful, beautiful hands!
Though heart were weary and sad
These patient hands kept toiling on
That the children might be glad.
I almost weep when looking back
To childhood’s distant day!
I think how these hands rested not
When mine were at their play.

Such beautiful, beautiful hands!
They’re growing feeble now,
And time and pain have left their mark
On hand, and heart and brow.
Alas! alas! the nearing time–
And the sad, sad day to me,
When ‘neath the daisies, out of sight,
These hands must folded be.

But, oh! beyond the shadowy lands,
Where all is bright and fair,
I know full well these dear old hands
Will palms of victory bear;
When crystal streams, through endless years,
Flow over golden sands,
And where the old are young again,
I’ll clasp my mother’s hands.

Ellen Maria Huntington Gates was born in the third decade of the 19th century. She passed away in the second decade of the 20th century, and in between, became well-known for her hymns and poetry. One of her hymns, “Eternity” struck a chord in the heart of President Abraham Lincoln. This beautiful dedication to mothers continues to touch the hearts of many. Learn more about this Who’s Who Poet

Ellen M.H. Gates Contemporaries
Edward Lear
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Robert Louis Stevenson
Walt Whitman

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2 Responses

  1. Cheoy Lee says:

    A very emotive poem, managing to filter so much love and remembrance through the simple image of a pair of beautiful hands. Powerful.

  2. Missy Ing says:

    Love this poem! It was read recently at my grandmother’s funeral. It fits her so well. She suffered pain and disfigurement in her hands due to arthritis, but she gave much hard work and love with those beautiful hands!

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