Introduction

This poem tells us about an old woman who was having difficulty crossing the road on a cold day. A young schoolboy comes to help her. He believes that she is somebody’s mother and hopes that his mother might someday be treated with the same kindness that he showed. The poem is 38 lines long and has 8 stanzas. Every two lines rhyme.

Stanza 1- 2

The woman was old and ragged and gray
And bent with the chill of the Winter's day.
The street was wet with a recent snow
And the woman's feet were aged and slow.
She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng
Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eyes.

The poet writes about seeing an old woman on a busy street on a winter’s day. The old woman was old and gray and her clothes were torn. Her back was bent because of how cold the winter day was. The streets were white with a recent snow and the woman’s feet were slow because of her old age. She could not walk fast. She waited long at the crowded crossing, pushed aside by the careless crowd of people who passed her. These people did not notice the anxious look in her eyes.

Stanza 3- 4

Down the street with laughter and shout, 
Glad in the freedom of ‘school let out’, 
Came 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.

Down the street, there was a school that had just let out. Happy boys came from this school like a flock of sheep. They laughed and shouted because they were glad school was over and they were free. They merrily shouted at the snow that was piled white and deep and hurried past the old and gray woman. None of them offered a helping hand to her. The old woman was weak and timid. She was afraid to move because she feared that the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet might run over her in the slippery street.

Stanza 5- 6

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.

At last, a boy came out of the merry group to help the old lady. He was the happiest boy in the whole group. He stopped beside her and whispered in a low voice that he would help her across the road if she wished it. The old woman placed her aged hand on his strong young arm. He guided her trembling feet along without any hurt or harm coming to her. He was proud that his own feet were young and strong so he could help her. He then went back to his friends again. His young heart was happy and well content to have helped the old woman.

Stanza 7- 8

‘She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know, 
For all she’s aged, and poor and slow; 
And someone, 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.

He told his friends that the old woman was somebody’s mother although she was aged, poor, and slow. He hoped that someone, some time, might lend a hand to help his own mother if she ever becomes old and poor and gray, and her own dear son is far away. In her home, that night, the old lady, or “somebody’s mother”, bowed her head low. The prayer she said was for God to be kind to that noble boy who had helped her, who was somebody’s son and pride and joy.

Conclusion

This poem tells us a warm tale about an old woman who is helped by a young schoolboy. It teaches us to be kind and help other people, especially the weak and needy.