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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: May 2015



William Ross Wallace's (1819–1881) poem, ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World’ glorifies motherhood as a divine mission of ‘strength and grace’. The infant in Wallace's poem is almost entirely invisible and inert. It is mentioned only once when likened to a ‘tender fountain’. This concluding poem asks us to consider how children rock the cradle in their own right and how they might rule the world in their own way.

The cradle it rocks


My best wishes,

Our best efforts,

its best interests.

The cradle it rocks.

From inside,

it stirs.

Breaching the crib to

Slap my cheek,

Blubber my lips,

Chatter my teeth.

its shrewd little hands,

Like butterfly wings,

Stroking my hair,

Molesting my lids.

The cradle it rocks.


The world stirs.

Oblivious it is

To conflict and slurs.

To small arms new wars

And gasses uprising.

Soon it will emerge

With virtue admiring,

With justice by sceptre

By sword and by shield.

The cradle it rocks.

We cannot

But yield.